According to a new study, plastic bag usage has fallen in recent years due to a desire to save the planet and not our pennies.
According to new research conducted by Nottingham University Business School’s N/LAB analytics centre, which looked at data on more than 10,000 consumers, shoppers who are shunning plastic bags on their supermarket shops are not at all influenced by the climate crisis.
All UK retailers are required to charge 10p per bag.
The study examined loyalty card transactions and looked at the psychological and demographic predictors for single-use bag purchases.
It was found that plastic bags are most popular among younger shoppers, who are often more frugal and male. However, they did not consider their environmental impact when making their purchase.
The questionnaire asked consumers about their shopping habits, as well as their motivations. It also asked about environmental concerns.
The responses were then linked back to their purchase data. It was then paired together with a machine learning algorithm to determine the factors which actually predicted their plastic bag buying behavior.
The results indicated that shoppers who didn’t purchase plastic bags were more concerned with the 10p price than the planet.
Dr Gavin Smith, an associate professor in analytics, said: “We expected our findings would show infrequent bag-buyers are at least partly motivated by a desire to save money.
“But what we didn’t expect, not least given environmentalism’s role in underpinning the levy on plastic bags, was that environmental concerns wouldn’t predict consumption at all.
“This suggests future campaigns to further reduce plastic bag consumption might benefit from different messaging. It’s a matter of understanding whom to target, how and when.”
Study co-author Dr James Goulding, N/LAB’s associate director, added: “Until now very little was known about the people who still regularly buy plastic bags – or those who don’t.
“Previous research has tended to focus exclusively on consumers’ personalities or motivations not, crucially, on whether an individual’s beliefs actually translate into action in the real world.
“Our approach recognises that people today leave in their wake a substantial amount of data that can help do social good and shed significant light on how they really behave in practice.”
Additional reporting by PA