The price of single-use plastic bags could be doubled from 5p to 10p as 250,000 corner shops are banned from handing the bags out for free.
Currently, only supermarkets and large stores are forced to apply the charge.
But the Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said it will now be extended to smaller shops, where some 3.6billion bags are handed out every year.
Mr Gove last night put forward the plans – first mooted in August – in a consultation document. He wants the changes to come in by January 2020.
It is another significant victory for the Daily Mail, which has campaigned against the scourge of plastic for more than a decade.
Government scientists believe plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is curbed – with one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals dying every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.
Currently, the 5p charge applies only to big business, but it will now be extended to shops with fewer than 250 employees.
Trade bodies representing around 40,000 small retailers have already launched a voluntary 5p charge, but this accounts for less than one fifth of England’s 253,000 small shops.
Mr Gove said: ‘The 5p single-use plastic bag carrier charge has been extremely successful in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives.
‘Between us, we have taken over 15billion plastic bags out of circulation. But we want to do even more to protect our precious planet and today’s announcement will accelerate further behaviour change and build on the success of the existing charge.’
While the consultation document suggested the charge could be increased to 10p, this was only mooted as one possible option, meaning the price could end up being lower than that.
The progress was welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores.
Chief executive James Lowman said: ‘We welcome the Government’s plans to extend carrier bag charging to all shops. This has been shown to be highly effective at reducing waste, whilst also raising money for local, national and environmental charities.’
Samantha Harding, litter programme director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: ‘It’s great to see the Government using its initiative to take the bag charge one step further.’