Discussion Paper

Behavioral Response to Plastic Bag Legislation in Botswana

May 25, 2010 | Johane Dikgang, Martine Visser

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .

Abstract

This paper investigates the use of charges and standards in dealing with a common externality, plastic litter from shopping bags in Botswana. The country passed a plastic bag tax (effective 2007) tocurb the plastic bag demand. Interestingly, the legislation did not force retailers to charge for plastic bags, which they did voluntarily at different prices. We assessed the environmental effectiveness and efficiency of the plastic bag legislation by analyzing consumers’ sensitivity to the improvement of theplastic bag and related price charges. The introduction of the plastic bag levy led to a significant decline in the consumption of plastic bags per 1,000 Botswana pulas of shopping. The partial success of the Botswana levy was due to the constantly high prices of the bags.