Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Plastic Shopping Bags
Due to the damage being done to the ecosystem by the accumulation of plastic products, many grocery and retail stores have switched from the use of plastic bags to cloth or paper bags and where plastic is still used a small charge is made for the bag. The charge may be insignificant but it causes the shopper to think before they consume. This is CSR in action in our everyday lives.
CSR has fuelled this change. This simple action of consumer habit modification has been of great benefit to the environment. An action, which will have beneficial consequences both immediately and into the future. It takes about one millennium for a plastic bag to decompose in the environment. The effect on marine life is difficult to comprehend, as we are not readily made aware of its harmful effects out at sea. Small marine life such as barnacles and mollusks attach themselves to the bags floating on the surface. Larger marine life ingests the smaller marine life and the plastic with it causing digestive problems to the creature consuming the item.
Size of the Problem – Trillion Bags
As a measure of the significance of this move, to discourage plastic bag use, the actual numbers of bags used are so large they are difficult to grasp. It is estimated that over 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed annually worldwide. There are approximately seven billion people in the world at 2012. That is over one hundred and forty bags per person on the planet. Factor in the probability that almost half of the world’s population (including India and China) do not use plastic bags regularly, lends perspective to the size of the problem.
This change to more environmentally friendly, packaging has often been an unanticipated cost reduction to companies. In order for such wide-scale changes in the retail industry to be manageable, corporations need to be able to assess the issues as well as the costs, participate in the process of more ecologically sound innovation, and be able to convey the ideas and principles of the modifications within the business itself and the community of retail customers.