At the weekend, Clegg announced that the charge has been adopted as government policy and will be introduced in 2015.
Money from the charge will be distributed to charity, while its introduction is designed to help the government make good on its aim to be the UK’s greenest government ever.
The charge will only apply to supermarkets and larger stores.
Similar 5p charges have already been introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland, while Scotland is due to come into force in October 2014.
The Welsh charge – introduced in October 2011 – led to a 76% decrease in the use of single-use carrier bags in 2012. Overall, some 8bn plastic bags were distributed in the UK in 2012, according to figures from Wrap.
Marks & Spencer also has a 5p charge in place.
However, the charge is likely to dismay many in the packaging sector who have long argued that the environmental impact of plastic bags is insignificant and that the issue is a distraction from more effective ways to reduce society’s carbon footprint.
Environment secretary Ed Davey this morning told the BBC that the charge was not a tax – because any money raised would be distibuted to charity – and that it would encourage shoppers to reuse bags.
“We’re not trying to tax people; we’re trying to change people’s behaviour,” he said.
Andy Walker of Keep Britain Tidy said the move was a “victory” for the organisation and a coalition of other groups that have been lobbying for it.