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Cakes in plastic: a study of implicit associations of compostable bio-based versus plastic food packaging

Koenig-Lewis, N., Grazzini, L. and Palmer, A. (2022) Cakes in plastic: a study of implicit associations of compostable bio-based versus plastic food packaging. Resources, Conservation and Recycling (178). ISSN 0921-3449

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2021.105977


This paper explores the disjuncture between consumers’ expressed preferences for ecologically benign packaging and their subsequent purchase decisions. We investigate consumers’ attitudes towards compostable bio-based food packaging, in contrast to fossil-based plastic packaging, framing our study within analysis of implicit attitudes. We address a gap in knowledge about the moderating effects of consumers’ reported health consciousness on the relationship between implicit health associations with compostable packaging and subsequent purchase intentions. Specifically, across four studies employing Implicit Associations Tests (IATs), we analyse the relationship between implicit and explicit attitudes, relating packaging associations with consumers’ behavioural intentions. Our findings confirm positive implicit (and explicit) perceptions of compostable bio-based packaging (vs. fossil-based plastic) regardless of the healthiness of the food contained. This is reflected in consumers’ purchase intentions. We build on this to incorporate the effects of consumers’ self-reported health consciousness. We find that low health-conscious consumers are more likely to be guided in their compostable packaging decisions by their unconscious and automatic health-packaging associations, than consumers with high health consciousness. We contribute to policy discussion about effective ways of reducing fossil-based plastic packaging use and note that environmental claims for non-plastic alternatives aimed at consumers with low-health consciousness should make appeals based on health benefits, tapping into implicit attitudes to evoke automatic responses.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > Marketing and Reputation
ID Code:101642


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