By Shannon Mora
A plastic bag floating down the city street has become New York’s version of
In 2008 former Mayor Bloomberg attempted to address the increasing plastic bag pollution with a 6 cent tax on all bags used in grocery and corner stores. The motive was to encourage the use of reusable, cloth carriers as a substitute to one-use plastic bags. However, the tax failed then and again in 2016 under the criticism that it would cause “undue financial burden to the poor”. One bodega owner expressed his fear of losing customers as a result of such a tax. In response, he said, “They ask us for plastic bags for free as it is. When we say no, they curse us out. They demand a bag for a 25-cent bag of chips.”
The problem with using plastic bags has only worsened since then. They pollute our streets, waterways, release toxic chemicals once they break down, and end up either in landfills or oceans. Understanding this crisis, Governor Cuomo has supported a far stricter approach that is expected to be in effect this year- A complete ban on plastic bags from being provided at supermarkets, delis, and bodegas. Unfortunately, while this ban is effective in decreasing the New Yorker’s contribution to plastic pollution, it does not solve the initial issue of contributing undue burden to business owners nor does it address their fear of losing business.
Alternative: Market Mechanisms
Perhaps the conclusion is that
In order to impact market behavior effectively, either the government may take legislative action or market mechanisms may naturally create solutions. This can be described as the processes by which the players in a free market determine supply and demand.
To explore this demand, CCC has compiled the data from 9 case studies to show how consumers truly feel about low-carbon products. These case studies were performed over the course of eight years, 2009-2017, and had overwhelming results that showed the vast majority (55%-88%) of consumers prefer low-carbon products. Furthermore, this consumer preference was shown to increase
These studies prove there is an existing demand for low-carbon and low impact products. It is now up to business owners to supply to this group of consumers. Thus, securing this market share could be a way to alleviate the financial burden and fear posed by a tax or a ban.
How Can We Help You Become Low-Carbon?
Our mission is to provide a means for businesses of any size to take responsibility of their product impact and to empower all consumers to easily participate in climate action. We achieve this through performing affordable LCA’s and running a program that allows business owners to educate their consumers.
If you have questions about LCA’s, how much they will cost for your business, how we conduct our evaluations, or how offsetting works, please email us for a free consultation! We are happy to discuss your options.