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Public perceptions of the introduction of the single-use carrier bags charge in Scotland

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Purpose

This article analyses the comments of consumers concerning the introduction of a minimum charge on single-use carrier bags in Scotland through The Single-Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations 2014.

Research Methods

The data analysed in this study were collected using the BBC "Have Your Say" online message board. This approach provided an opportunity to analyse the perceptions of consumers, using 335 responses that were posted the day that the charge was announced, and 474 responses that were posted on the day of the introduction of the charge. The collected data were inductively analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings

Like many other studies of consumer perceptions of environmental policy initiatives, the results show that public perceptions of the scheme are divergent. While some perceived the scheme to be a good idea, others argued that the charge is another form of tax on the consumer.

Limitations

The study only considers the responses of those motivated to signal their opinions on the online message board. Implications The policy implications of the scheme are discussed in this paper, including the importance of public engagement through consultation when introducing market-based instruments to influence pro-environmental behavioural change.

Contribution

The paper makes an empirical contribution through the use of social media analysis techniques to create insights into spontaneously offered public opinion of the introduction of a charge on single-use carrier bags and thus offers a critique of the instrument from the consumer point of view. Further, this study contributes to the extant knowledge of consumer perceptions of market-based interventions and adds to the debate on carrier bag consumption.
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Keywords: CARRIER BAGS; CONSUMER PERCEPTIONS; ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION; PLASTIC BAGS; REUSE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2017

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