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Four major supermarkets are donating proceeds from the new plastic bag charge to help pay for construction of a dementia research centre

As people got used to the introduction of a 5p levy on plastic carrier bags today, it was announced that ASDA, Iceland, Morrisons and Waitrose would pledge some of the money raised from the charge to support the building of a dementia research centre at University College London (UCL).

The UCL centre is costing £350m, but currently still needs £100m in funding to complete. It’s hoped the cash generated will help to bridge this gap, with the potential for up to £20m a year, although this will depend on how customers react to the new charge.

Iceland has said it would donate all proceeds of bag sales after VAT for at least two years, while Waitrose has said it would commit all of next year’s proceeds. They’re now urging other retailers and companies with 250 employees or more to do the same.

The plastic bag charge was introduced in England on Monday 5 October in a bid to reduce waste, as the bags fill up waterways, oceans and landfill and take many years to degrade. England is the last country in the UK to start the scheme.

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 bit initiatives to realise them.’