Can choice architecture help people use reusable bags more?

Zubin Jelveh at Odd Numbers writes about Ikea’s successful plastic bag tax:

In a bid to become more eco-friendly, last March, Ikea’s U.S. division started to charge 5 cents per bag for going plastic. The alternative for customers was to either bring in their own bags or buy $0.59 reusable ones from Ikea.

After one year, the company reports that the response was exceptional. Ikea’s initial goal was to reduce usage in their stores from 70 million to 35 million bags per year. They got that and more: Plastic bag consumpiton dropped a whopping 92 percent, meaning roughly 64 million less bags were used.

After a reader says it would be useful to know how many reusable bags Ikea sold, fearing that people are simply treating the reusable bags like plastic ones, Jelveh says it poses a good Nudge question: “How do we get people to internalize the cost of not reusing reusable bags?”

Addendum: One possibility might be to slightly increase the cost of the bag (to say $1 or $1.25) and then give an automatic rebate (of say $.10) for each reusage.

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