Tesco has deducted millions of pounds in administration fees from funds raised from the plastic bag tax, an initiative that the government stated should go towards charitable causes.
According to the Guardian, Tesco topped the list of plastic bag sales following the introduction of the tax in 2015, but is the only supermarket to have deducted any money.
The UK‘s largest grocer deducted £3.4 million from the funds, equivalent to over 10 per cent of the total £31.9 million raised from selling 637 carrier bags.
Although rival supermarkets including Asda, Morrisons, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Iceland and Waitrose all made the top 10 list of most bags sold, none of these made administration deductions.
“The legislation for the 5p plastic bag charge is clear that the money raised should go to good causes,” Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh MP told the Guardian.
“Five years after the horsemeat scandal and three years after a false accounting scandal, Tesco finds itself again in the spotlight for doing the wrong thing. They should drop this ridiculous charge immediately.”
In response to the calls to scrap the deductions, Tesco stated: “Since launching in 2015, our Bags of Help initiative has provided more than £33m to over 6,400 local community projects.
“A small proportion of the money raised is used to run and administer the scheme in partnership with the charity Groundwork, who help distribute the money to good causes.”
Companies with over 250 employees are required by law to charge 5p for their plastic bags, but companies are not legally obliged to donate the proceeds to charity.
Companies like Poundstretcher‘s funds are listed as “retained by company”.
Before the levy nearly seven billion bags were distributed per year, since the 5p tax was introduced the figure plummeted to under half a billion.