From shops to bins: a case study of consumer attitudes and behaviours towards plastics in a UK coastal city

Stephanie Northen*, Laura Nieminen, Serena Cunsolo, Kator Steven Iorfa, Keiron Roberts, Steve Fletcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Understanding the use behaviours of plastic items within households is important to enable informed policy development, particularly with the emerging and developing global plastic treaty. A survey of 400 permanent residents in Portsmouth aimed to identify the general trends in single-use plastic product (SUPP) use and disposal, and their personal motivations and barriers to reducing and recycling plastic. This included identifying common influencers of attitudes such as environmental values, situational characteristics, psychological factors and the individual demographic characteristics of residents. Key factors in consumer behaviour were found to be product availability, affordability and convenience. Often, less conveniently recycled plastics more frequently end up in landfill such as films, shopping bags and personal care items. The age of
respondents was found to be the most significantly associated demographic with SUPP consumption, reuse and recycling behaviours. Other demographic variables such as a resident’s location within the city, income and vehicle ownership were
potential drivers influencing individual attitudes and their incentives towards reducing and recycling their plastic waste. The findings from this study brought to light the importance of effective local plastic governance. This study also identified consumer perceptions and behaviours that could contribute to future holistic plastic policy recommendations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability Science
Early online date30 Jan 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 30 Jan 2023


  • Single-use plastics
  • Recycling rate
  • Household waste generation
  • sustainable consumption
  • Circularity
  • Consumer perceptions

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