The introduction of a single-use carrier bag charge in Wales: Attitude change and behavioural spillover effects

Wouter Poortinga, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Christine Suffolk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Citations (Scopus)


Wales is the first country in the United Kingdom to have introduced a charge for single-use carrier bags. A 2×2 quasi-experimental field study was set up to evaluate the effectiveness and further attitudinal and behavioural impacts of the charge. Independent nationally representative quota samples were interviewed before and after the introduction of the carrier bag charge in Wales and at the same times in England (n=500 each). England, where no carrier bag charge was introduced, served as the comparator for the study. The study found increases in own bag use in both countries. However, the increase was much greater in Wales than in England. The study also found evidence for the policy becoming more popular after its implementation in Wales. While support for the carrier bag charge was already high before its introduction, the Welsh population became even more supportive afterwards. Although no support was found for positive behavioural spillover, the study found changes in self-reported environmental identity that could produce positive spillover effects in the longer term. The theoretical and policy implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • Attitude change
  • Behaviour change intervention
  • Behavioural spillover
  • Environmental identity
  • Single-use carrier bags

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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