Asda donates carrier bag charge to Scottish community projects

Asda has announced it will be donating £145,000 raised from the mandatory 5p charge for single-use carrier bags (SUCB) to community projects across Scotland through a new Community Capital scheme.

A 5p charge for all SUCBs given out by retailers was introduced in Scotland in October 2014 to help reduce the number given out from 750 million in 2013. Asda expects to raise more than half a million pounds in the first year of its implementation of the charge.

“At Asda, we want the carrier bag charge to have long-term social – as well as environmental – benefits,” said Asda’s senior director for Scotland Kevin McBride. By working in partnership, we can ensure that Asda Community Capital delivers meaningful, sustainable benefits for Scotland, helping to drive growth, create jobs and regenerate communities for the long-term.”

The supermarket will donate the funds arising from the bag charge to support innovative social enterprises and community projects across Scotland in a UK-first partnership with Social Investment Scotland (SIS). Half of the proceeds will be distributed through loans to third-sector organisations who find it difficult to access other funding. Investment capital of between £10,000 and £50,000 will be made available for new social enterprises to meet a gap in market for smaller loans.

Financially sustainable

The other half of the funds will be donated to Foundation Scotland; to be distributed in small grants of up to £2,000 to local projects nominated and chosen by Asda colleagues.

If the policy has the Government’s desired effect, carrier bag use will fall and there will be a subsequent drop in proceeds to Asda’s Community Capita Scheme, so funds will go to projects that will have a meaningful benefit for communities into the future and the interest raised on loans will be reinvested to deliver sustainable social impact.

SIS chief executive Alastair Davis said: “As a UK-first, the fund offers an exciting new model for corporates to get involved with their communities. Given that we’ll only be lending to organisations that can become financially sustainable, we can ensure that the funds will be eventually be recycled to support other enterprises who are seeking to develop and grow.”

Wales saw an 81% reduction in the number of SUCBs given out between 2010 and 2012 following the introduction of a bag levy. In July this year, WRAP found that the number of single-use plastic bags handed out to shoppers by UK supermarkets had risen for the fourth year running. The Government is due to introduce a compulsory carrier bag tax in England in 2015, but has been criticised for making the proposals ‘unnecessarily complicated’.

— Read edie’s list of carrier bag sustainability statistics — 

Lucinda Dann

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