In late 2020 I completed my Leadership and Sustainability MBA with the University of Cumbria which examined:
The influences of public desire on leadership at New Zealand supermarkets leading up to the phasing-out of single-use plastic bags
Cite Olsen, Glen P (2020). The influences of public desire on leadership at New Zealand supermarkets leading up to the phasing-out of single-use-plastic bags.
Examining the influences of public desire on leadership decision-making at New Zealand supermarkets in the lead up to the phasing-out of single-use plastic bags in 2018.
Introduced by New Zealand supermarkets in the 1980s, produced from non-renewable natural gas or crude oil, High-Density Polyethene bags are non-biodegradable and release toxic chemicals over hundreds of years while breaking down in landfalls. The harm caused by discarded plastic to the environment and marine life has been reported since the 1950s. Nevertheless, in 2015 with discarded plastic becoming significant ocean waste, five trillion single-use-plastic bags were manufactured globally. In that year, studies found that 90% of 700 marine species had interacted with marine-debris, further 96% of dead coastal birds had consumed plastic.
Utilising quantitative primary research data accumulated through an online questionnaire, combined with the re-analysation of secondary quantitative data this paper argues that the primary downfall of previous attempts by supermarkets to reduce the supply of single-use plastic bags in New Zealand before 2018 was a direct result of leaderships failure to ascertain the level of public desire.
Additionally, primary quantitative research augments existing literature in finding a disparity between consumer desire and consumer intent, with intentions often not aligning with actions.
The principal recommendation of this research is that decision-makers must understand, recognise, and measure the difference between consumer desire and consumer intent, with consumer desire taking precedence. Second, when utilised by leadership, frameworks like Carroll's CSR pyramid can further ensure balanced and sound environmental focused decision-making.