Plastic bag charge backed by convenience stores

Dr Pamela Yeow, Lecturer in Human Resource Management and MBA Programme Director, Kent Business School comments on the recent BBC Business News article – Plastic bag charge backed by convenience stores

It was great to read that the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has agreed to support the UK Government’s decision to introduce a levy on single-use plastic bags from autumn 2015. In research* recently published by colleagues at Kent Business School and the London School of Economics, we found that the role of institutions (government and organisations) is significant in encouraging ethical behaviour to embed.

In our study of the use of single-use plastic bags, we found that when individuals worked alongside government and major organisations, the use of single-use plastic bags dropped significantly. However when support from a major institution waned, the use of such bags actually increased again, implying that such ethical behaviour was not sustained over a short period of time. This was so even though the general sentiment amongst individuals was that of greater environmental awareness.

In our recommendations it was suggested that the interaction of individuals, governments and organisations over a sustained period will be able to lead to sustained ethical behaviour change.

The support of associations such as the ACS is crucial if we are serious about making a significant impact on the use of single-use bags and reducing its impact on our environment.

*paper published in the Journal of Business Ethics “Bags for life: The embedding of ethical consumerism” – Pamela Yeow, Alison Dean, and Danielle Tucker (2013)

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