The Welsh Single-Use Carrier Bag Charge and behavioural spillover

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Journal of Environmental Psychology


Gregory Owen Thomas, Wouter Poortinga and Elena Sautkina

Publication date


A Single-Use Carrier Bag Charge (SUCBC) requires bags to be sold for a small fee, instead of free of charge. SUCBCs may produce ‘spillover’ effects, where other pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours could increase or decrease. We investigate the 2011 Welsh SUCBC, and whether spillover occurs in other behaviours and attitudes. Using the Understanding Society Survey (n = 17,636), results show that use of own shopping bags increased in Wales, compared to England and Scotland. Increased use of own bags was linked to increases in six other sustainable behaviours, although changes were significantly smaller in Wales for three of these behaviours. Increased own bag use was linked to stronger environmental views, but effects were weaker in Wales for two out of three measures. We conclude that the Welsh SUCBC effectively encouraged bag re-use, but with minimal changes in other environmental attitudes and behaviours, due to the external motivation to change behaviour.

Volume and page numbers

47, 126-135






Environmental Sociology, Area Effects, Psychology, Economics, Social Attitudes and Social Behaviour


Open Access article; Open Access funded by Economic and Social Research Council; Under a Creative Commons license