A fund for environmental projects in Wales has been established by the Co-operative Group following the introduction of a carrier bag charge in the country.
On October 1st, Wales was the first UK nation to introduce a charge per single-use bag. Shoppers will pay 5p per bag in Co-operative stores, and all proceeds have been earmarked to fund local environmental projects. Co-operative Group stores also sell the ‘bag for life’ at 10p and the Fairtrade cotton bag for £1.
It is expected that around £155,000 will be generated per year from the scheme. Co-operative members will also have a say in which local causes the funds will support. All retailers are instructed to hand over any monies from the sale of single-use bags, which can be made from paper, plastic or starch, to local good causes or environmental projects.
Already the Group has supported a number of environmental projects across the country, which include Pembroke 21C Community Association that helps preserve local wildlife habitat, Llwyneinion In Bloom and the North Wales Reptile and Raptor Sanctuary.
Steve Drake, the Co-operative Group’s Regional Operations Director for South West and Wales, said: “We have been working closely with the Welsh Assembly Government on the introduction of this new legislation. Nationally we’re bucking the trend and reducing the number of single-use carrier bags.
“Thanks to the efforts of our customers and store staff, we had a 60 per cent reduction in the use of single use carrier bags in 2010 compared with 2006, and the numbers to the end of May this year show a (cumulative) reduction running at 63 per cent year on year, compared to 2006.”
In announcing the policy to charge for plastic bags, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Wales is leading the way in the UK by introducing a charge for single use carrier bags. Our plans have been welcomed by people across Wales, and indeed the UK, as a positive way of addressing the blight of bags on our landscape and a waste of resources.
“Of course the charge can be simply avoided by remembering to carry bags whenever you go shopping. Remembering to reuse your bags means you will be contributing to a more sustainable Wales.”
Environment Minister John Griffiths said: “The introduction of this charge delivers an important message about the need for us all to live more sustainable lives. This principle is at the heart of Welsh Government policy making. Carrier bags present a real litter problem and it’s estimated that local authorities spend more than £1m a year clearing them up.”