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The Potential Of Food Packaging Attributes To Influence Consumers’ Decisions To Sort Waste

Babak Nemat, Mohammad Razzaghi, Kim Bolton, Kamran Rousta

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Food packaging waste is a valuable resource for material recovery, if it is properly separated and sorted by consumers. The packaging itself may have the potential to assist consumer sorting by, for example, communicating a correct sorting practice. This is partly due to the fact that the sorting of packaging waste, which is a habitual behavior of consumers, can be perceived as being confusing and inconvenient. Consumers can, therefore, choose not to sort. It is argued that material recovery could be enhanced if packaging can afford easy and proper sorting and separation. To investigate the potential of packaging to support proper sorting, six types of yogurt and cream packaging were examined across 15 households in Karlskrona (a medium-sized Swedish city). The aim is to investigate the effect of selected packaging attributes on consumer decisions regarding waste sorting. The results reveal that some of the selected packaging waste is not properly separated and sorted. It is concluded that the design of food packaging based on user-centered needs could affect consumer decisions for the proper sorting of packaging waste, which enables improved material recovery. The design should focus especially on the package’s visual attributes, the material selection, and the package´s waste sorting related functions.