David Cameron has warned retailers that legislation could be used to curb carrier bag use.

The prime minister said last year’s increase in plastic bag use was “unacceptable” and vowed to “look carefully at all options in order to make sure that we further reduce the use of single use plastic bags".

“The number of bags being used had fallen considerably, partly thanks to public pressure and the efforts of many major retailers,” he said.

“But progress overall went backwards last year. That's unacceptable and we need to do better. I want to see the numbers going in the right direction again.

“I know retailers want to do better too, but if they don't I will be asking them to explain why not. They need to know the government has options at its disposal including legislating, as other countries have done.”

Cameron singled out Marks & Spencer for praise, pointing to the high street giant’s policy of donating cash raised by charging for bags to environmental causes.

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