The paradox between the environmental appeal of bio-based plastic packaging for consumers and their disposal behaviour

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Abstract

To realize the potential environmental benefits that recycling and/or composting bio-based plastic packages can deliver, it is important that consumers view bio-based packaging as environmentally-friendly, but also correctly dispose of the packaging. The current experimental lab-in-the-field study was conducted among German consumers (n = 281) and explores whether consumers' perceived environmental benefits of recyclable and compostable bio-based plastic packages match with how consumers dispose of these packages. The results show that consumers only perceive compostable bio-based packages to have more environmental benefits than fossil-based packages. However, consumers dispose of compostable bio-based packages in an incorrect manner (not in line with what is communicated on the packaging label) relatively often. Consumers with a stronger familiarity with bio-based products more often correctly dispose of compostable bio-based packages, but not recyclable bio-based packages, relative to fossil-based packages. Thus, although mainly compostable bio-based plastic packages have strong environmental appeal to consumers, paradoxically this does not translate in the proper disposal actions to fully capitalize on the environmental benefits that bio-based packages can actually deliver. Increasing consumers' bio-based product familiarity might be an avenue to increase the levels of sustainable disposal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135820
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume705
Early online date29 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2019

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Packaging
familiarity
plastic
Plastics
fossil
Composting
composting
Recycling
Labels
recycling
packaging
appeal
product
field study

Keywords

  • Bio-based
  • Consumer behaviour
  • Disposal
  • Environmental benefits
  • Packaging
  • Plastic

Cite this

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title = "The paradox between the environmental appeal of bio-based plastic packaging for consumers and their disposal behaviour",
abstract = "To realize the potential environmental benefits that recycling and/or composting bio-based plastic packages can deliver, it is important that consumers view bio-based packaging as environmentally-friendly, but also correctly dispose of the packaging. The current experimental lab-in-the-field study was conducted among German consumers (n = 281) and explores whether consumers' perceived environmental benefits of recyclable and compostable bio-based plastic packages match with how consumers dispose of these packages. The results show that consumers only perceive compostable bio-based packages to have more environmental benefits than fossil-based packages. However, consumers dispose of compostable bio-based packages in an incorrect manner (not in line with what is communicated on the packaging label) relatively often. Consumers with a stronger familiarity with bio-based products more often correctly dispose of compostable bio-based packages, but not recyclable bio-based packages, relative to fossil-based packages. Thus, although mainly compostable bio-based plastic packages have strong environmental appeal to consumers, paradoxically this does not translate in the proper disposal actions to fully capitalize on the environmental benefits that bio-based packages can actually deliver. Increasing consumers' bio-based product familiarity might be an avenue to increase the levels of sustainable disposal.",
keywords = "Bio-based, Consumer behaviour, Disposal, Environmental benefits, Packaging, Plastic",
author = "Danny Taufik and Reinders, {Machiel J.} and Karin Molenveld and Onwezen, {Marleen C.}",
year = "2019",
month = "11",
day = "29",
doi = "10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135820",
language = "English",
volume = "705",
journal = "Science of the Total Environment",
issn = "0048-9697",
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AU - Reinders, Machiel J.

AU - Molenveld, Karin

AU - Onwezen, Marleen C.

PY - 2019/11/29

Y1 - 2019/11/29

N2 - To realize the potential environmental benefits that recycling and/or composting bio-based plastic packages can deliver, it is important that consumers view bio-based packaging as environmentally-friendly, but also correctly dispose of the packaging. The current experimental lab-in-the-field study was conducted among German consumers (n = 281) and explores whether consumers' perceived environmental benefits of recyclable and compostable bio-based plastic packages match with how consumers dispose of these packages. The results show that consumers only perceive compostable bio-based packages to have more environmental benefits than fossil-based packages. However, consumers dispose of compostable bio-based packages in an incorrect manner (not in line with what is communicated on the packaging label) relatively often. Consumers with a stronger familiarity with bio-based products more often correctly dispose of compostable bio-based packages, but not recyclable bio-based packages, relative to fossil-based packages. Thus, although mainly compostable bio-based plastic packages have strong environmental appeal to consumers, paradoxically this does not translate in the proper disposal actions to fully capitalize on the environmental benefits that bio-based packages can actually deliver. Increasing consumers' bio-based product familiarity might be an avenue to increase the levels of sustainable disposal.

AB - To realize the potential environmental benefits that recycling and/or composting bio-based plastic packages can deliver, it is important that consumers view bio-based packaging as environmentally-friendly, but also correctly dispose of the packaging. The current experimental lab-in-the-field study was conducted among German consumers (n = 281) and explores whether consumers' perceived environmental benefits of recyclable and compostable bio-based plastic packages match with how consumers dispose of these packages. The results show that consumers only perceive compostable bio-based packages to have more environmental benefits than fossil-based packages. However, consumers dispose of compostable bio-based packages in an incorrect manner (not in line with what is communicated on the packaging label) relatively often. Consumers with a stronger familiarity with bio-based products more often correctly dispose of compostable bio-based packages, but not recyclable bio-based packages, relative to fossil-based packages. Thus, although mainly compostable bio-based plastic packages have strong environmental appeal to consumers, paradoxically this does not translate in the proper disposal actions to fully capitalize on the environmental benefits that bio-based packages can actually deliver. Increasing consumers' bio-based product familiarity might be an avenue to increase the levels of sustainable disposal.

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