Tesco has increased the cost of its plastic bags by 50% - and some shoppers are really not happy.

The supermarket hiked the cost of its reusable carriers from 20p to 30p, prompting complaints about the timing of the rise, during a cost-of-living crisis.

However, Tesco defended the decision for environmental reasons, saying they want to encourage customers to reuse bags and cut down on plastic.

The idea behind the “bags-for-life” is you only pay once – after the initial purchase, they can be replaced by the supermarket, for free, whenever they break.

Tesco customers bag-for-life complaints

Taking to Twitter, Jim Pinkston, said: “It's bad enough prices are rising and cost of living is through the roof, but how can you explain a carrier bag price rising to 30p? It may only be 10p but on top of everything it's unacceptable and alienating!!”

While an account calling themselves ‘Sporting Nest’ said: “Tesco advise why the cost of their plastic bags has gone up from 20p to 30p, right at the point where there is a cost of living crisis, and punishing those who are poorest and do least damage to the environment i.e. those who walk or get public transport to the supermarket?”

Paul William Rayson tweeted Tesco, asking: “Have your carrier bags got smaller? How come you're charging 50% more for them? Is it, like your shop assistant told me, because the cost of plastic has gone up?”

A spokesperson for the company, Andy, replied: “Hi Paul, we do not want to make any money from the sale of carrier bags. Tesco is increasing the price of its Bags for Life to 30p (previously 20p) to encourage customers to reuse bags and cut down on plastic.”

Another member of Tesco’s customer care team also refuted the claim the bags were now smaller, saying he has found no mention about a change in the size, adding "The bags look to be the same size as before".

Plastic carrier bag charge

The mandatory 5p levy on plastic bags was introduced in England in 2015, with figures five years on showing the number of single-use bags distributed by large supermarkets had fallen more than 95%.

This fee for plastic carrier bags then doubled in April last year. The charge was also extended to all shops in England, small retailers no longer exempt from the levy.

The charge does not apply to multiple reuse bags, when replacing free of charge, if originally sold for 10 pence or more.