Retailers urged to follow HSS Hire’s plastic bag lead to beat dementia

Published:  20 October, 2015

All proceeds from the sale of plastic bags at tool and equipment hire company HSS Hire are to be donated to a fund supporting the development of a research centre, the company has announced.

University College London (UCL) plans to develop a world-class dementia research centre with the aim of helping develop a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025.

HSS has more than 300 stores that offer equipment hire but also sell small items such as safety gloves and paint brushes that can require a carrier bag.

It has joined Asda, Morrisons, Iceland and Waitrose in donating bag proceeds to the fund following the government decision to make retailers charge 5p for them.

The proposed centre at UCL will cost £350 million but has a funding shortfall of £100 million. The retailers say cash from plastic bag sales could bridge the gap if other businesses join them.

Jon Overman, group sales director and chair of the HSS Hire CSR Steering Committee, said: “This is a great way to channel money from plastic bag sales to an extremely important cause. Dementia is a huge issue facing the UK and the wider world. Effective medical research could make a huge difference, and UCL is a world leader in this field.

“The way that different businesses have come together on the issue shows how momentum can be gained to help fund crucial medical research. We saw this initiative, wanted to join it and hope even more companies will join it.”

UCL describes the growing problem of dementia and neurodegenerative disease as a “ticking time-bomb”, and “the greatest scientific, medical and socio-economic challenge of our times.”

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 and retailers could make a real difference to accelerating that research.”

Half of all children born in the UK this year will spend their later years with debilitating cognitive disease, it says. In the UK, there are currently 850,000 people living with dementia, including 40,000 younger people and one in six of the over 80s. Dementia costs the NHS more than cancer and heart disease combined.

Prime Minister David Cameron used his G8 presidency to host the world’s first dementia summit in December 2013, securing a commitment to establish the World Dementia Council and a collective ambition to identify a cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025.

Globally, more than 35 million people are affected by dementia, with 10 million new cases in 2015; a statistic that represents a new case being diagnosed every three seconds on average.

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