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Good causes get carried away over £750K Co-op local fund

Good causes throughout Scotland are set to bag a share of over £750,000 thanks to a new retail initiative which reinvests funds collected from 5p carrier bag charges back into the local community.

The Co-operative today (Wednesday 16 September) launched The Co-op Local Fund, which calls upon the Scottish public to nominate good causes that they believe deserve a grant of between £200 and £2,500. The community retailer will provide funds to around 1,000 organisations and groups to enable them to make positive changes within their local communities.

The Co-operative is a signatory of Zero Waste Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment, through which retailers pledge to donate funds raised from the single-use carrier bag charge in Scotland to good causes, and report on carrier bag usage. It follows legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament last November which requires all Scottish retailers to charge shoppers a minimum 5p for every single-use carrier bag they use.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food, and the Environment Richard Lochhead, said:

“It is fantastic to see the carrier bag charge raising so much money for good causes, as well as achieving such drastic reductions in the number of single-use carrier bags being handed out in Scottish stores. I would like to commend The Co-operative for their support, and to encourage as many people as possible to nominate projects in their area that should benefit from these funds.”

David Barnes from Zero Waste Scotland with Carol from The Co-Operative branch in Stirling at last year's launch of the carrier bag charge

John McNeill, Divisional Managing Director for The Co-operative Food in Scotland, said:

“The Co-op shares Zero Waste Scotland’s aspiration to reduce the number of single-use carrier bags in use. The money raised will enable organisations throughout Scotland to make a difference – and together, we will reduce, reuse, recycle, and reinvest in our local communities.”

In addition to the 5p minimum charge  on single-use bags, The Co-op has also pledged to top-up the fund with proceeds from its entire range of carriers, including sales of its bags-for-life and its new woven reusable shopping bags.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland said:

“Since the carrier bag charge came into force we have seen a huge reduction in single-use carrier bags in circulation in Scotland – that’s around 150 million fewer than last year alone. This has been a huge success with people changing their shopping habits to take re-usable bags with them.

“This scheme from The Co-op illustrates that the carrier bag charge is not only benefitting the environment, but it is also making a positive difference in the communities where the money has been raised.”

The Co-operative has seen an 80% reduction in single-use carrier bags in circulation since the introduction of the charge.

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