Understanding public perceptions of chemical recycling: a comparative study of public attitudes towards coal and waste gasification in Germany and the United Kingdom

Christopher R. Jones*, Roh Pin Lee, Daphne Kaklamanou

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Despite the recognised importance of public acceptance for the success of industrial technologies, little is known about public attitudes towards chemical recycling. We address this gap by investigating the nature of public attitudes towards gasification. Gasification, a form of chemical recycling, can be used to convert carbonaceous wastes into feedstocks that can be used to produce a variety of products (e.g., plastics and transportation fuels) and is seen as a means of supporting the transition towards a circular carbon economy. Using an online questionnaire distributed to diverse samples of the public in Germany (n = 318) and the UK (n = 327), we assessed participants' attitudes towards gasification after exposure to a short informative video about either coal- or waste-based gasification. These countries were selected as both have advanced chemical recycling industries, but also evidence historic differences in public perceptions of carbon-related technologies. Results show that initial self-reported awareness and knowledge of gasification were very low, although improved by the video. Participants in both countries were generally positive about gasification, particularly waste-based gasification. Mediation analysis indicated that this preference was explained by a stronger positive and weaker negative affective response to the technology, as well as a stronger belief that waste-based gasification is a ‘green’ technology option that was worthy of investment. Trust in developers was identified as a direct predictor of attitudes towards gasification. The study complements the ongoing techno-economic-ecological evaluations of gasification technologies and has implications for the development of public engagement and communication efforts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Early online date12 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 12 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • chemical recycling
  • gasification
  • attitudes
  • technology acceptance
  • public perception

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