Kelly Halse, from Preston, Lancs, shops in Asda every day and opts for 5p carrier bags so that she knows her money is going to charity.
However, the 35-year-old claims staff are reluctant to provide her with a 5p bag, “sighing” when they have to unlock a cupboard to access them.
When the new carrier bag charge was announced by the government last year, Asda and several other supermarkets pledged to donate the charge to help fund a dementia research centre.
But Kelly believes Asda would prefer its customers to buy 6p carrier bags so it can keep the profits – though a spokesperson claims each bag for life costs 6p to manufacture and therefore no profits are made.
Kelly, who works in finance, said: “I buy my lunch in the shop every day as it”s next to where I work, but I”m convinced there”s some sort of conspiracy where the staff have been told to lock away the 5p bags.
“For the past three weeks, me and my colleagues have been asking for 5p bags each time we”ve been in, but they”re never out on display.
“I asked a checkout assistant why that was, and they said it”s because they might get stolen. But if that”s the case I don”t see why the 6p bags don”t get stolen too. They didn”t really have an answer to that.
“On more than one occasion, they”ve tried to convince me to get a 6p bag because it”s stronger. Or if I”m buying a bottle of wine, for example, they say a normal carrier bag won”t do.
“I think the store manager is encouraging staff to sell 6p bags instead – which is absolutely disgusting.
“I don”t believe for one second that there are no profits on the 6p bags. The number they have to manufacture, it can”t cost more than a penny per bag, probably even less. So as far as I am concerned, they are making money and keeping all the profits.
“They say things like, “It”s only a one penny difference so you might as well get a better one.” But it”s not, it”s the difference between giving the money to Alzheimer”s research or giving it to a major corporation.
“When I ask for a 5p bag, they sigh and have to go off and fetch a key to unlock the cupboard where they are kept. I have to go through this every single time I go in there. They treat it like a huge inconvenience.
“When you look round the shop, not one person has a normal carrier bag. Everyone gets given the 6p ones. When people ask for a bag in there, they aren”t given a choice – they just get a bag for life.
“If they had an average of 500 customers a day doing a weekly shop with an average of 6 bags, that”s 3,000 bags in just one day. If they don”t give people access to the 5p bags, that means the charity is missing out on £150 a day, or more than £1,000 a week from just one store.
“Including my proper food shop, I spend at least £60 a week in Asda. I use a bag for life when I”m buying a lot in one go, but on a workday I usually forget to take my own bags. And if I”ve got to buy a bag, I”d much rather the money went to charity.
“Dementia research is really close to my heart. I work in the retirement market and frequently come across conditions like this. Whenever there”s an option to help fund the research, I always would.”
An Asda spokesperson claimed there is no profit on their 6p bags for life, as that figure is absorbed into design and manufacture costs.
The spokesperson said: “We”re committed to reducing the amount of carrier bags used in the UK and whilst we recognise this is the ultimate aim of the 5p bag charge, we also appreciate that there is another commitment we can make as a retailer around the money raised from the charge.
“Like we”ve done elsewhere in the UK, we will be donating the money we receive through the charge to charity.
“In Scotland, a number of charities and enterprises have received over £900,000 in donations, whilst in Wales the figure stands at over £950,000. Our aim is to do the same for good causes in England.”