Plastic bags

Donations made by independent Co-op franchisees from plastic-bag charges more than doubled on a two-year basis, representing increased demand for local convenience.

Each year, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) releases information on plastic-bag charges made by supermarkets and convenience chains, since the fee was introduced in 2015. In figures for 2021 released this month, independent Co-op franchises donated £1.8m in plastic-bag charges to charities, up from nearly £700,000 in 2019.

During the same period, donations from the Co-op multiple chain rose from £5.3m to £10.1m. In comparison, contributions from major supermarket chains had also increased from £10m to £11m. Defra stressed that any comparison of 2021 to the previous year would be inaccurate due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Commenting on the reason for the increase within independent Co-op chains, retail expert David Gilroy said: “The increase is an indication of the pandemic trend where more people started shopping at their local convenience store.

“They weren’t driving to get their groceries and many of them were just walking into the shop to pick up their goods, while demand at supermarkets also changed. Overall, the usage of plastic bags has decreased since the charge was introduced in 2015, which is a positive move for the environment.”

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