plastic bags

The Co-operative Group has raised more than £750,000 for good causes in the first year of the Scottish carrier bag levy.

Scottish charity groups are now being urged to apply online for a chance to win a share of the funds raised by the 5p bag charge. The donations will range from £200 to £2,500 and will be granted as part of the Co-op Local Fund to about 1,000 groups and organisations across Scotland.

In addition to the donation, The Co-op has pledged a further top-up to the charity fund with proceeds from bags for life and woven reusable shopping bags.

“The Co-operative is a community retailer with a strong heritage and commitment to the environment and to supporting its local communities,” said divisional MD for Co-operative Food in Scotland John McNeill.

“We are asking the Scottish public to nominate those causes that they care about and would like to see supported through The Co-op Local Fund. The Co-operative’s one million members in Scotland will then have a unique opportunity to vote and say how the money should be shared.”

Organisations can apply until midnight 7 October and, from 16 November to 11 December, the one million Scottish members of the retailer will be given the chance to shortlist the organisations for a funding grant.

The Co-operative Group has recorded an 80% reduction in its single-use carrier bags in Scotland since the introduction of the 5p charge.

“Since the carrier bag charge came into force we have seen a huge reduction in single-use carrier bags in circulation in Scotland - around 150 million fewer last year alone,” said chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland Iain Gulland.

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