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Shoppers' plastic bag charge to fund third sector loans

Proceeds collected by Asda under the 5p plastic bag charging scheme in Scotland are to provide loans for third sector organisations which otherwise would find it difficult to access funding.

Between October 2014, when the charge came in, and the end of the year, £145,000 was collected by the supermarket giant in Scotland for what it is calling ‘Asda Community Capital’.

In what is claimed to be a UK-first, the partnership with third sector funder Social Investment Scotland (SIS) will see half of the proceeds distributed through loans. Investment capital of between £10,000 and £50,000 will be made available for new social enterprises. 

The other half will be donated to Foundation Scotland. Customers and colleagues will nominate projects and good causes in their local community that would benefit from grants of up to £2,000. Regional selection panels of Asda colleagues will vote on the projects to benefit.

Estimates suggest that single-use carrier bag charging by Asda could raise more than £500,000 in the first year. Ultimately, if the charge impacts on the use of such bags, the cash flow will reduce.

Kevin McBride, Asda senior director for Scotland, said: “By working in partnership, we can ensure that Asda Community Capital delivers meaningful, sustainable benefits for Scotland, helping to drive growth, create jobs and regenerate communities for the long-term.”

Alastair Davis, chief executive of SIS, said many enterprises frequently struggle to access capital, either as a result of their own investment readiness or a lack of suitable financial products.

“Through Asda’s Community Capital, we’ll be able to support the development of highly motivated, small, community-based enterprises throughout Scotland. In turn, we can help to connect more capital with communities, making a real, measurable and sustainable impact on people’s lives,” he said.

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