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Waste Manag. 2017 Mar;61:3-12. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.023. Epub 2017 Jan 26.

The Portuguese plastic carrier bag tax: The effects on consumers' behavior.

Author information

1
Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal; MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal.
2
Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal.
3
Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal; MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal. Electronic address: alp11931@fct.unl.pt.

Abstract

Marine litter from lightweight plastic bags is a global problem that must be solved. A plastic bag tax was implemented in February 2015 to reduce the consumption of plastic grocery bags in Portugal and in turn reduce the potential contribution to marine litter. This study analyzes the effect of the plastic bag tax on consumer behavior to learn how it was received and determine the perceived effectiveness of the tax 4months after its implementation. In addition, the study assessed how proximity to coastal areas could influence behaviors and opinions. The results showed a 74% reduction of plastic bag consumption with a simultaneously 61% increase of reusable plastic bags after the tax was implemented. Because plastic bags were then reused for shopping instead of garbage bags, however, the consumption of garbage bags increased by 12%. Although reduction was achieved, the tax had no effect on the perception of marine litter or the impact of plastic bags on environment and health. The majority of respondents agree with the tax but view it as an extra revenue to the State. The distance to the coast had no meaningful influence on consumer behavior or on the perception of the tax. Although the tax was able to promote the reduction of plastics, the role of hypermarkets and supermarkets in providing alternatives through the distribution of reusable plastic bags was determinant to ensuring the reduction.

KEYWORDS:

Distance to coast; Marine litter; Market-based instrument; Plastic bags; Sustainable behavior

PMID:
28131637
DOI:
10.1016/j.wasman.2017.01.023
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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