Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

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

Version 1 : Received: 8 December 2020 / Approved: 9 December 2020 / Online: 9 December 2020 (14:35:13 CET)

How to cite: Zwicker, M.V.; Brick, C.; Gruter, G.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. Preprints 2020, 2020120230 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0230.v1). Zwicker, M.V.; Brick, C.; Gruter, G.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. Preprints 2020, 2020120230 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0230.v1).

Abstract

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. In four studies, 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. 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, retain a favourable attitude and a high willingness to pay. We found mixed evidence for the effect of attitudes on willingness to pay. We discuss how attitudes and misconceptions affect the uptake of new sustainable technologies such as bio-based plastics and consumers’ willingness to purchase them.

Subject Areas

plastic; bio-based plastic; willingness to pay; attitudes; recycling

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