The Tesco Bags of Help grant scheme is now permanently open for applications from a wide range of community groups, schools, local authorities and organisations.
Fed by the 5p plastic bag charge in Tesco stores in Scotland, England and Wales, the fund awards grants for, among other things, physical improvements and activities on outdoor spaces, greenspaces and parks, so long as they do not charge for access. There is no match funding requirement and no restrictions on existing project funding.
Projects that will now get the green light as a result of the funding will include volunteer training, physical improvements of open spaces, equipment purchases, community events and sports and leisure activities.
Following a public vote, three projects in each of the 200 Tesco regions across Britain will receive a grant each month, up to £5,000, £2,000 and £1,000.
Bags of Help is administered by Groundwork, working in Scotland with Greenspace Scotland, which has a team of ‘community enablers’ to provide advice on submitting an application.
Full eligibility criteria and detailed application guidance is available online here. The decision on which existing bids will be awarded funding in the next funding round will take place in Tesco stores from 26 September to 9 October.
England became the last part of the UK to introduce a levy in October last year and the scheme has led to dramatic drops in plastic bag use across the country. Tesco reported a 78% drop in the first two months of operation in England alone.
While eligible retailers are obliged to charge 5p for plastic bags, with some exceptions, it is up to them what they do with the money, although they are encouraged to donate it to charity. They are obliged to tell the Government what they do with the cash and be prepared for this to be published. Good causes have proved to be too good a corporate social responsiblity and PR opportunity to ignore for most.
The Government has estimated that over the next 10 years the charge will raise £730m for good causes.