Public attitudes towards feedstocks and end-of-life management of plastics: A cross-border comparative study.

Neha Mehta, Eoin Cunningham, Debbie Roy, Elizabeth Marsh, Martin Dempster, Emma Berry, Beatrice Smith

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding


Increasing environmental awareness of plastic products has resulted in keen interest towards development of bio-based alternatives and end-of-life management of plastics. Understanding public attitudes can ensure success of interventions by government and industry.This study examined public attitudes towards feedstocks and end-of-life management of plastics. The research was conducted using an online survey and convenience sampling in Northern Ireland (NI, n = 373) and Republic of Ireland (ROI, n = 228).We observed higher preference towards plant waste than dedicated crops (e.g. maize) as feedstocks for plastics, showing concerns over food security in both regions. However, the preference for other waste sources was lower than for plant waste, with slaughterhouse waste (e.g. tallow) < poultry feathers < eggshells.In both regions about 60% of word associations for plastics were negative. Respondents expressed concerns in the following trend: environmental issues related to plastics > littering > landfilling ≈ amount of plastic waste generated. When asked about the responsibility of stakeholders in reducing plastic waste, responses showed mean scores (scale 1-10) as Industry (8.35) > Individual (8.26) > Supermarket (8.14) > Government (7.79) in NI. In ROI, the highest responsibility was placed on individuals, with a mean score of 8.41. Even though the highest responsibility was placed on individuals in ROI, the region showed a higher percentage of casual recyclers than NI and less engagement with plastics-related media or conversations in the last month. This research could inform manufacturing practices, development of recycling infrastructure and all-island policy initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference of Environmental Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2021
EventInternational Conference of Environmental Psychology - The Siracusa Urban Center, Sicily, Siracusa, Italy
Duration: 5 Oct 20218 Oct 2021


ConferenceInternational Conference of Environmental Psychology
Abbreviated titleICEP


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