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EE Seminar

Environmental Economics Seminar

On the perils of environmentally friendly alternatives


Fredrik Carlsson
Professor at University of Gothenburg



The development of environmentally friendly alternatives is one key aspect for reducing the environmental impact of our consumption. At the same time, most environmentally friendly alternatives are simply less environmentally damaging than existing alternatives. In this paper, we investigate what happens with consumer behavior when a more environmentally friendly alternative is introduced. In particular, we look at the use of plastic bags, and the introduction of a biodegradable bag. In a field experiment, we investigate the effects of the introduction under different conditions. In particular, we compare giving away the bags for free, with setting a small price. We find that giving away the bio-bags for free results in a large behavioral rebound effect, resulting in a large increase in the number of bags. Setting a small price completely offsets this rebound effect completely. Interestingly, implementation of a simple nudge in terms of a default to some extent backfires. The decrease in number of plastic bags is smaller than without a default, but the behavioral rebound effect is stronger.

Co-authors : Francisco Alpizar and Gracia Lanza,

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Practical information


Montpellier SupAgro / INRA - Bat. 26 - Centre de documentation Pierre Bartoli
2 Place Viala 34000 Montpellier

Dates & time

Mar 05, 2021


Alexandre Sauquet
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Gwenolé Le Velly
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