The Prime Minister has warned retailers to cut the number of plastic bags handed out or face legislation.

He praised various campaigns for cutting the number of bags handed out in recent years but expressed disappointment that some of this work had been undone in the past 12 months.

According to a recent Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report, the number of plastic bags handed out in the UK in 2010 had increased by 6% year on year.

“The number of bags being used had fallen considerably, partly thanks to public pressure, including the (Daily) Mail campaign, and due to the efforts of many major retailers,” said Cameron. “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.”

He said that he may be forced to follow the lead of Republic of Ireland and Wales, and introduce a levy to tackle the problem. “I know that retailers want to do better too but if they don’t I will be asking them to explain why not,” added Cameron. “They also need to know that the Government has options at its disposal - including legislating as other countries have done. We will continue to look carefully at all options in order to make sure that we further reduce the use of single use plastic bags.”