Researchers at the University of Gothenburg found that Chinese shoppers (the number one users of plastic bags in the world) cut their consumption of disposable bags in half thanks to the ordinance against free plastic bags that was implemented in June 2008. Economists surveyed over 3,000 Chinese consumers before and after the ordinance began, and found that before the ordinance, subjects reported using an average of 21 new plastic bags per week and said they rarely re-used any of their bags; post-ordinance, they reported using 49% less, re-using almost half of their bags.
Though the study only followed implementation of policies in China, the implication of the study extends to other countries who use or are contemplating a similar system. The ordinance was most effective when stores cooperated fully and repeated public information campaigns informed consumers about the environmental impact of plastic bags, but many stores simply continued giving out free plastic bags (despite rules that prohibit stores selling bags for less than their market value). Researchers emphasized that policies must be reinforced and regulated in order to be successful, but if the simple ordinance was enough to cut consumption in half, even among the number one consumers, then there’s good reason to think that similar laws could be effective here, too.
via Science Daily