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Exploring Consumers’ Understanding and Perception of Sustainable Food Packaging in the UK

There is a growing emphasis on sustainability; however, not all food packaging fits this remit and consumer knowledge is typically lacking. This paper investigates UK consumers’ understanding, perception and preferences relating to sustainable food packaging and the impact that adding information to this packaging has on consumers’ behaviour. Consumers (n = 405) completed an online survey covering the following sections: (1) sustainability habits and knowledge; (2) utilising images to understand the role of labelling; and (3) determining key sustainable packaging attributes. Consumers regularly recycle plastic, cardboard, metal, paper, and glass, as well as showing willingness towards recycling; however, they lack knowledge of the correct recycling procedures. Labelling was successful in changing consumer behaviour and encouraging more sustainable choices. Consumers identified key sustainable packaging attributes as biodegradability, disposal methods, renewable sources, recyclability, no excess packaging, and product quality. The main themes from this survey relate to consumers typically being confused about recycling and often lacking knowledge about sustainable materials. More targeted education is needed to help consumers, coupled with additional support from companies and governments, to ensure consumers can make sustainable choices.

Publication date: 28/10/2022

Author: Victoria Norton

Reference: doi: 10.3390/foods11213424

MDPI (foods)


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.