Consumer attitudes and willingness to pay for novel bio-based products using hypothetical bottle choice

Elsevier, Sustainable Production and Consumption, Volume 35, January 2023
Zwicker M.V., Brick C., Gruter G.-J.M., van Harreveld F.

Fossil-based plastic contributes to environmental pollution through carbon dioxide emissions during production and lifecycle. Bio-based plastic from renewable biomass retains functionality and can have a lower carbon footprint. Any large-scale investment in bio-based plastic by the industry requires knowing that consumers are willing to purchase these products and learning how best to market them. This online study (N = 529) investigated psychological factors influencing preferences for three types of plastic bottles: a conventional fossil-based bottle (PET plastic), a visually identical bio-based bottle (PEF plastic), and a visually distinct bio-based bottle with a paper outer layer (paper PEF). The key outcomes were attitudes and willingness to pay. We also tested whether consumers' choices being visible to valued others affected these judgments. Participants reported positive attitudes towards bio-based plastic, were willing to pay more for it, and, irrespective of being observed, overwhelmingly preferred the bio-based bottles (96.8 %). We discuss how these findings may be applied by the industry to increase the uptake of bio-based plastic and other sustainable consumer alternatives.