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

Oke, Adekunle; Pedersen, Sarah; McDonald, Seonaidh


Adekunle Oke

Seonaidh McDonald


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 messageboard. This approach provided an opportunity to analyse the perceptions of consumers, using 335 responses that were posted the day 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 messageboard. 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.


OKE, A., PEDERSEN, S. and MCDONALD, S. 2017. Public perceptions of the introduction of the single-use carrier bags charge in Scotland. Social business [online], 7(2), pages 127-154. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 6, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 1, 2017
Publication Date Jun 30, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 29, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 2, 2018
Journal Social business
Print ISSN 2044-4087
Electronic ISSN 2044-9860
Publisher Westburn Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 2
Pages 127-154
Keywords Carrier bags; Plastic bags; Environmental legislation; Consumer perceptions; Re-use
Public URL


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