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Article

(Not) Doing the Right Things for the Wrong Reasons: An Investigation of Consumer Attitudes, Perceptions, and Willingness to Pay for Bio-Based Plastics

1
Department of Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 129-B, 1018 WT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2
Industrial Sustainable Chemistry, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3
Avantium NV, Zekeringstraat 29, 1014 BV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
4
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Tomas Baležentis and Iris Vermeir
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6819; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126819
Received: 24 March 2021 / Revised: 5 May 2021 / Accepted: 7 June 2021 / Published: 16 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development)
Fossil-based plastics are significant contributors to global warming through CO2 emissions. For more sustainable alternatives to be successful, it is important to ensure that consumers become aware of the benefits of innovations such as bio-based plastics, in order to create demand and a willingness to initially pay more. Given that consumer attitudes and (inaccurate) beliefs can influence the uptake of such new technologies, we investigated participants’ attitudes towards fossil-based and bio-based plastic, their perceived importance of recycling both types of plastic, their willingness to pay, and their perceptions of bio-based plastic in four studies (total N = 961). The pre-registered fourth study experimentally manipulated information about bio-based plastic and measured willingness to pay for different types of plastic. The results suggest participants hold very favourable attitudes and are willing to pay more for bio-based products. However, they also harbour misconceptions, especially overestimating bio-based plastic’s biodegradability, and they find it less important to recycle bio-based than fossil-based plastic. Study 4 provided evidence that educating consumers about the properties of bio-based plastic can dispel misconceptions and retain a favourable attitude and a high willingness to pay. We found mixed evidence for the effect of attitudes on willingness to pay, suggesting other psychological factors may also play a role. We discuss how attitudes and misconceptions affect the uptake of new sustainable technologies such as bio-based plastics and consumers’ willingness to purchase them. View Full-Text
Keywords: plastic; bio-based plastic; willingness to pay; attitudes; recycling plastic; bio-based plastic; willingness to pay; attitudes; recycling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zwicker, M.V.; Brick, C.; Gruter, G.-J.M.; van Harreveld, F. (Not) Doing the Right Things for the Wrong Reasons: An Investigation of Consumer Attitudes, Perceptions, and Willingness to Pay for Bio-Based Plastics. Sustainability 2021, 13, 6819. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126819

AMA Style

Zwicker MV, Brick C, Gruter G-JM, van Harreveld F. (Not) Doing the Right Things for the Wrong Reasons: An Investigation of Consumer Attitudes, Perceptions, and Willingness to Pay for Bio-Based Plastics. Sustainability. 2021; 13(12):6819. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126819

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zwicker, Maria V., Cameron Brick, Gert-Jan M. Gruter, and Frenk van Harreveld. 2021. "(Not) Doing the Right Things for the Wrong Reasons: An Investigation of Consumer Attitudes, Perceptions, and Willingness to Pay for Bio-Based Plastics" Sustainability 13, no. 12: 6819. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126819

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