Paper or Plastic: Impacts to Consumers from Eco-labeling

Last registered on January 09, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Paper or Plastic: Impacts to Consumers from Eco-labeling
Initial registration date
January 08, 2024

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 09, 2024, 1:18 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Many lawmakers and environmental groups have argued in favor of carbon labeling on goods. We analyze the impacts to consumers from carbon labeling single-use cups using two randomized experiments. We document that carbon labels increase consumer knowledge of carbon but decrease knowledge of 'wastefulness.' We observe significant changes to consumer behavior tied to carbon labels but not to labels of both carbon and waste. Our estimates suggest this is mainly driven by salience. Overall, results suggest that carbon labeling influences consumers through more than just providing carbon information, which suggests greater care may be necessary when implementing future labels.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Pallottini, Ashton. 2024. "Paper or Plastic: Impacts to Consumers from Eco-labeling." AEA RCT Registry. January 09.
Experimental Details


Consumers were shown randomly varying eco-labels which documented either (i) carbon footprint, (ii) waste footprint, (iii) carbon and waste footprints, or (iv) neither. Additionally, to separate the impacts of salience of a label versus updating we showed some participants the information beforehand though did not present it as an eco-label during a simulated consumption decision.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Knowledge of environmental impact to carbon and waste from single-use goods. Additionally, choices between different types of single-use hot cups in a simulated revealed preference consumption decision.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
In one experiment, we show randomly carbon labels, waste labels, carbon-and-waste labels, or neither. The labels are presented during a revealed preference exercise in which people choose between foam or paper cups and their choice is implemented with probability 5%. We then ask people true-false questions about environmental impacts of cups.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Performed automatically within a Qualtrics survey.
Randomization Unit
Individual level randomization
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1400 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
1400 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
900 were allocated such that about 1/6th each saw one of our six different labels (control, carbon only, waste only, carbon-and-waste qualitative, carbon-and-waste quantitative, carbon-and-waste qualitative-and-quantitative). This means about 150 each.

The next 500 were only assigned to three different labeling groups (control, carbon only, and carbon-and-waste qualitative-and-quantitative). However, half randomly saw information before seeing any labels and the other half did not. This means 6 treatment groups total, or just over 80 per group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
The University of Chicago IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials