Charity donations fall as plastic bag sales slow

Plastic bags

The amount Scottish retailers are passing on to the charity sector has dropped after sales of single use bags dropped by £3.8m

20th December 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A fall in sales of plastic bags has resulted in charity donations from retailers dropping.

The total amount raised for charity by Scottish retailers fell to £14.7 million in 2018 from £15.9m the previous year, according to the report from the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC).

The study said the fall was primarily a result of changes in the use of single use carrier bags – which have to cost 5p by law. Many retailers have moved away from the single use bags, and instead charge 10p for reusable bags. Carrier bag sales donation figures fell by £3.8 million.

The report said: “[The reduction] is predominantly driven by a number of retailers who have stopped selling single use carrier bags in the last year as retailers move to more sustainable models. Since we have also seen a significant like-for-like rise in direct 
financial donations, it’s plausible retailers are selling more multi-use carrier bags and donating those proceeds to charities and good causes instead.”

The study found that the largest contribution was through direct donations to charities from retailers, which totalled over £7.2m, followed by fundraising for charity partnerships which raised £4.7m. The last main donation category was fundraising for specific events, with £1.2m raised for Poppy Scotland, Comic Relief, and Children in Need.

Some members also recorded the time donated for volunteering, worth over £120,000 to the third sector.

SRC head of policy, Ewan MacDonald-Russell, said: “Not only have retailers raised an enormous sum for good causes, they’re actively working in partnership with charities and groups to make a significant local impact.”

Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at Stirling University said that the decline in plastic bag sales was likely to continue. He said: “The introduction of the charge had a massive impact on plastic bags. It is not just a one-off impact, it’s changing the behaviour of consumers over time. I would expect it to reduce further in future.

“There is an awful lot of charitable work which goes on under the radar, while it is the large retailers that tend to make a bit more noise about it.”