Good causes across Scotland will gain access to £750,000 of funds raised through a charge on carrier bags.
A Local Fund has been launched by the Co-operative Group which is expected to fund around 1,000 organisations with grants of between £200 and £2,500. Extra contributions will also be added from its bag for life and woven carrier bag ranges too.
Groups can apply for funding online, which closes on 7 October, and the following month around one million members across the country will be able to vote for their favourite cause.
John McNeill, divisional managing director for the Co-operative Food in Scotland, said: “The Co-operative [Group] is a community retailer with a strong heritage and commitment to the environment and to supporting its local communities.
“We share the aspiration of reducing the number of single-use carrier bags in use. This is also encouraging shoppers to further reduce their reliance on single-use carriers by donating proceeds from its reusable bags to good causes.
“The money raised will enable organisations across Scotland to make a difference in their community – together, we will reduce, reuse, recycle, and reinvest in our communities.”
In 2014, the Scottish Parliament passed legislation that requires all retailers, whether food or non-food, to charge a minimum of 5p for each new single-use carrier bag.
Since the introduction of the charge last October, the Group has seen an 80% reduction in single carrier bags in circulation.
Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, commented: “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.
“This scheme from the Co-op illustrates how the carrier bag charge is not only benefiting the environment, but also making a positive difference in the communities where the money has been raised.”
Cabinet secretary for Rural Affairs, Food, and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, added: “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 projects and local good causes as possible to apply in order for their communities to benefit from a share of the funds”.