Technological watch

Barriers and Enablers to Buying Biodegradable and Compostable Plastic Packaging

Biodegradable and compostable plastic packaging (BCPP) has the potential to reduce a global plastic waste problem. We aimed to identify influences on buying BCPP as a basis for designing strategies that enable BCPP’s environmental benefits. Using a UK-focused citizen science dataset, we thematically analysed 610 survey responses to a question exploring reasons for BCPP purchase. Themes are categorised as barriers and enablers and according to the components of the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, and Behaviour (COM-B) model of behaviour. Key barriers concerned: psychological capability (not understanding terminology used to label packaging, not taking notice of packaging, and preferring other types of packaging and product qualities); reflective motivation (negative beliefs about BCPP’s environmental impacts and skepticism over decomposition claims), and physical opportunity (no access to appropriate waste management). Key enablers concern: reflective motivation (positive beliefs about BCPP’s environmental impact and resolve to behave pro-environmentally) and physical opportunity (access to appropriate waste management). Reducing ambiguity concerning the labels of biodegradable and compostable may reduce skepticism over environmental claims of packaging. Interventions should improve information about the source of the packaging material, how the packaging waste is processed, and how to dispose of the packaging. This will not be sufficient unless facilities for local BCPP waste collection and processing are increased.

Publication date: 30/01/2021

Author: Ay?e Lisa Allison

Reference: doi: 10.3390/su13031463

MDPI (sustainability)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.