Public attitudes towards plastics

Last modified: 
May 20, 2019 - 4:57pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 08/2019
Authors: Leela Dilkes-Hoffman, Steven Pratt, Bronwyn Laycock, Peta Ashworth, Paul Lant
Journal title: Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume: 147
Pages: 227 - 235
ISSN: 09213449

Understanding and engaging the public is key for ensuring the success of government and industry initiatives aimed at addressing the problem of plastic waste. However, there has been little focus on documenting the general public’s attitudes towards plastics. This study examines public beliefs and attitudes towards plastics in Australia and provides insight on a global level. The research was conducted using an online survey of a nationally representative sample (2518 respondents). Overall, the survey results indicate that the public view plastics as a serious environmental issue. Plastic in the ocean had the highest mean rating for seriousness out of nine environmental issues, followed by two other issues relating to plastic waste production and disposal. Whilst there was an association of plastics with food packaging and convenience, there was more of a negative association with the use of plastic overall. Eighty percent of respondents indicated a desire to reduce plastic use and the majority of respondents believe that paper and glass are more environmentally friendly packaging materials than plastics. However, the results showed that many respondents do not translate their aspiration to reduce plastic use into action. Overall, while a majority of the Australian public are concerned about plastics as an environmental issue, they place the bulk of the responsibility for reducing the use of disposable plastic on industry and government.

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