The British Retail Consortium has welcomed proposals put forward by the government in the Queen’s speech today aimed at cutting the use of plastic.

The BRC welcomed elements put forward by the government designed to “improve air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive” with a new Environment Bill.

A new bill would introduce charges for single-use plastic items and extend producer responsibility to ensuring a “consistent approach to recycling and introduce deposit return schemes (DRS)”.

A charge for single-use plastic items would “build on the success of the carrier bag charge and incentivise consumers to choose other, more sustainable ways of taking shopping home”, the government added in its briefing notes.

In the speech, the Queen said the bill was “the first time environmental principles will be enshrined in law”.

The BRC welcomed the proposal but said to be effective, the government would need to ensure it would be rolled out across the whole of the UK.

BRC boss Helen Dickinson said: “We welcome the government’s commitment to sustainability, and support efforts towards a circular, zero-waste economy in the UK. We were particularly encouraged by measures to improve the consistency of recycling schemes in England, however, it is essential that such measures are rolled out across the whole of the UK. This way consumers know which packaging can be recycled whether they’re in Lands’ End or John O’Groats.

“Retailers have been leading the charge to reduce unnecessary plastic in their stores, and to boost recycling rates through clear on-pack recycling labels. Retailers know they have a responsibility to contribute more directly towards the costs of recycling and recovering packaging through a reformed Extended Producer Responsibility scheme. Once these changes are in place, the government should assess how a DRS can be used to plug any remaining gaps without disrupting the ability of consumers to recycle in the home.”

However, the BRC criticised the government for failing to use the Queen’s speech to do anything to help ease the burden of business rates on retailers and hoped for relief to come at the autumn budget on November 6.