The Southern Co-operative has raised £172,000 for local good causes in the first six months of the 5p carrier bag levy, with disability charity Scope and the Wildlife Trusts to receive £40,000 each.

All of the proceeds will go towards the Southern Co-op’s new community initiative ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’, which focuses on creating ‘greener, safer, healthier and inclusive’ neighbourhoods.

Since the carrier bag levy was introduced on 5 October 2015, the Southern Co-op has seen a 70% reduction in single-use carrier bags given out by its 195 food stores. Between 5 October 2015 and 5 April 2016, it cut the number of single-use carrier bags given to its customers by more than 10 million.

The Southern Co-operative will launch two further regional partnerships to address the ‘safer’ and ‘healthier’ neighbourhood aims in the coming months. Both of these partners will also receive £40,000 in funding.

Jessica Hughes, communications and community engagement manager for the Southern Co-operative, said: “At The Southern Co-operative, we have been really pleased with the 71% reduction of single-use carrier bags we have seen in our stores.

”However, the 5p levy has helped us to raise over £172,000 towards our Love Your Neighbourhood programme to help support our local communities, and we are pleased to announce that 100% of the proceeds will be donated because we believe that these funds belong back in the communities that helped to raise them.”