Co-op makes ‘bags of difference’ to island group

The Bute Kidney Patients Support Group launched a campaign in October 2015 to raise funds to establish a dialysis unit on the island.
The Bute Kidney Patients Support Group launched a campaign in October 2015 to raise funds to establish a dialysis unit on the island.

A Bute community group is set to receive a share of funds raised, in part, through a supermarket chain’s carrier bag charges.

Bute Kidney Patients Support Group - which is campaigning and fund-raising for a dialysis unit to be established on the island - will receive £2,500 from the Co-op’s pot of £750,000 which was raised through carrier bag charges and in-store sales.

The island group is one of over 800 good causes across Scotland to have responded to a call from the Co-op to apply for funding in order to make a difference in their community.

Local applications from Active Schools - Extra Curricular Exhilaration, and from Alzheimer Scotland - Action on Dementia, were also successful in bids for support. Active Schools will receive £1,500 to help to give pupils and volunteers the opportunity to try new things and become active. The funding will help to purchase equipment that is needed to run the clubs and encourage students to come along and join in. Alzheimer Scotland - Action on Dementia will receive £1000 to contribute to the materials it needs to provide a Memory Group for people affected by dementia.

Malcolm Brown and Jim Deans of the Co-op’s East Princes Street and Bridge Street food stores said: “We are thrilled that the funding is coming back to Bute to help to make a difference locally – as a community retailer we want to enable members, colleagues, customers and communities to make a difference in their communities.

“We are looking forward to seeing how these projects develop with the help and support of the money raised through both the carrier bag charge plus, the profits from sales of our entire range of carriers - including our bags for life and reusable bags – which we also donate to good causes.

“The Co-op shares the aspiration of seeing a reduction in the number of single-use carrier bags in circulation. In addition, local groups and organisations are set to receive a much needed funding boost - together, we are reducing, reusing, recycling and, reinvesting in our communities.”

In addition to distributing the money raised by the requirement to charge for single-use carrier bags, the Co-op has also pledged to go further and 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.

Scotland’s Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland has witnessed an incredible 80 per cent reduction in single-use carrier bag usage since the carrier bag charge was introduced in October 2014 – that’s at least 650 million fewer bags. In the process retailers have managed to raise an outstanding £7 million for good causes across the country.

“With the carrier bag charge we want to reduce litter and improve Scotland’s environment, but it’s great to see how it has evolved and that worthy causes are benefiting from it too. I’d like to congratulate the Co-op on its decision to distribute its funds among more than 800 groups.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Retailers are witnessing a huge reduction in the number of carrier bags in use and, it is clear that Scottish consumers have embraced a new shopping habit.

“The Co-op is a community retailer and its scheme illustrates how 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.”