Supermarkets donate plastic bag proceeds to fund UCL dementia research centre

Supermarkets donate plastic bag proceeds to fund UCL dementia research centre

Laurie Chen reports on a surprising benefit of the supermarket 5p plastic bag charge.

Four of the UK’s big supermarkets have recently announced that they will pledge proceeds from the 5p plastic bag charge towards building the world’s biggest dementia research centre in London.

The Dementia Research Institute will form part of UCL, and aims to lead national and international efforts to find viable treatments and effective care for those living with dementia.  It will be based within UCL’s neuroscience hub in Queen Square, Bloomsbury.

Initial calculations estimate that Asda, Morrisons, Iceland and Waitrose have the potential to raise £20m per year towards the cause, and other major UK retailers are now being urged to sign up. The project currently has a funding shortfall of £100m out of the £350m projected total building cost.

According to UCL, no overheads would be taken from the amount raised, meaning that all funds will be guaranteed to go towards supporting dementia research.

Professor Nick Fox, Director of the UCL Dementia Research Centre, said:

“Dementia already devastates the lives of far too many families across Britain – we urgently need to find more effective ways to prevent, delay or treat the diseases that cause it. There are real prospects for progress if we bring together the most able scientists and clinicians and support them in their research. This remarkable initiative by some of the UK’s leading supermarkets could make a real difference to accelerating that research.”

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“It’s enormously encouraging to see major retailers with huge influence over the public putting themselves forward to help solve the dementia challenge. With a global aim to produce a disease-modifying treatment that can bring relief to people with dementia by 2025, dementia research has big ambitions and will need big initiatives to realise them. UCL is home to one of our three new dementia Drug Discovery Institutes, which will spearhead the search for the next generation of treatments – it will take scientists working collaboratively on this scale to bring relief to millions of lives blighted by dementia worldwide.”

The 5p single-use plastic bag levy was introduced by the government on 5 October 2015 in order to reduce waste as a more environmentally friendly measure. Retailers are still expected to pay VAT on the proceeds; the rest of the money is expected to go towards good causes.

Featured image credit: David Hallam-Jones

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