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Issue 06/2020

  • Text
  • Renewable
  • Biodegradable
  • Films
  • Carbon
  • Biobased
  • Products
  • Packaging
  • Materials
  • Plastics
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Films / Flexibles Bioplastics from waste-streams Basics: Eutrophication

Report People’s

Report People’s perception Highlights of in-depth psychological market research on bio-based products In recent years, numerous B2C online surveys and focus group analyses have been conducted to understand what consumers think of bio-based products. It is well known, however, that other methods such as in-depth psychological interviews are better suited to explore deep-seated opinions, prejudices and contexts. This gap is being filled now by the novel approach used in this project. Instead of conducting the umpteenth standard survey, nova-Institute used the expertise of the renowned specialist market research company september Strategie & Forschung (Cologne, Germany) to gather the information needed about the consumer mind set. september is one of Germany’s market leaders in deep psychological market research. In this project, this methodology has now been applied for the first time to questions with relevance to the bio-based economy – with partly astonishing results. Guiding principles of the in-depth interviews are professional naivety, open interviewing and customer centric approach. The picture below shows the bio-based product samples from different product categories that were shown to the participants, without any explanation about their origin. The interviewees held the items in their hand during the session, which gave a good frame for an in-depth interview. The interviewees were asked to sort the items three times: once according to their perception whether the items could be made out of a bio-based or fossil-based feedstock, the second time according to importance of the feedstock for the product category and the third time according to preference for a bio-based feedstock. What are plastics made of? Consumers generally have no idea about mineral oil being the feedstock. It is a widespread perception that plastics are bad and kill animals in the sea When it comes to plastics, the interviewees mainly thought of negative aspects, but almost no one was aware that they are made from crude oil: “Something chemical, industrial, artificial ingredient, when it comes to ingredients I don’t really know”. The respondents were very surprised to learn that plastics are actually made from crude oil and can be made of plants. By: Asta Partanen, Michael Carus nova-Institute, Hürth Germany Food/Drink-Packaging (partly bio-based) Biocomposite Body care containers and comb Bio-based polymer Baby Toys by bioseries T-Shirt made of lignocellulosic Biocomposite Plastic cutlery Biodegradable garbage bags „Xugar“: Only the product itself was shown. The packaging (wood origin) wasn`t revealed Bio-based polymer tupperware Bio-based Bottle opener and Shoe-horn 38 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/20] Vol. 15

Report Wording How consumers understand those wordings Easy thinking: plant features are projected onto the product – chemistry is toxic magic The knowledge of chemistry is very low and the transformation from liquid mineral oil to solid plastic works like a miracle. Chemistry is toxic magic. In this way, the properties of the raw materials are transferred directly to the end products in consumers’ minds. Wood is hard, resistant and durable; analogously it should only be used to make hard, resistant and long-living products. Plant characteristics Hard Soft Virgin agricultural Recycled/ saved from garbage Grows slowly Vegetable (quickly growing) Biowaste/ compost/ “alive” Expected product characteristics Hard, resistant, long-living Soft, flexible, short-living Clean, natural, uncontaminated Particularly environment-friendly, but might be polluted, low in quality: suitable for single use High quality but too precious for single use Healthy/good influence on the product Rather soft and not resistant unhygienic, smells bad, might be polluted Plant-based / based on plants Bio-based Degradable/ Biodegradable Plastic • Products made out of plants are perceived as natural, environment friendly and healthy • What kind of plant it is, isn’t asked by the consumers. Could be any kind of plant: Gras, Flowers, Trees, Bamboo, …. • The aspects of the plants are also expected for the end product: f.e. soft plant = soft products • Is perceived as an artificial creation – no one likes to think about the meaning • Bio is linked to organic and since the feedstock of plastic is unknown to many, consumers can’t do anything with it • The wording wasn’t used for the exploration, since the wording does not explain the plant origin • Consumers don’t know the difference between those two wordings • Plastic is nondegradable to consumers, • Products based on plants are degradable to consumers. Meaning: It will degrade if one throws it in the compost or in the forest • Mineral oil feedstock is often unknown • Feels artificial, might be created in a lab: Is antiseptically clean • Plastic-Evilness is linked to selected products: e.g. straws • Is always available and cheap: Can’t be made out of renewable resources First generation feedstock for singleuse applications For soft and single-use applications, interviewees prefer first generation feedstocks: “Food crops are a highquality feedstock, but they are perceived less valuable than virgin lignocellulosics since food crops grow faster.” The understandable transfer of raw material properties to the product also works for these feedstocks: “This plastic product could be made of corn, because corn feels like plastic” – so it’s only logical you can make plastic out of it. Only very few respondents were aware of the discussions on food or non-food crops for industry, which seems to be mainly a discussion in the political area. Nobody understands bio-based and all believe plant-derived products will be biodegradable Products made from plants are biodegradable to consumers. Meaning: It will biodegrade if one throws it in the compost or in the forest. Thus: “Everything made out of plants is environment friendly”. The term bio is linked to organic, in contrast to bio-based, which was not understood or misunderstood. Consumers understand plant-based. Some products are more relevant as others Highly relevant is the replacement of evil products with bad eco-image: Water bottles, coffee cups, garbage bags, wrapping. This applies especially for the consumer groups Healthy optimizers and Ascetic moralists, as they have a high motivation to make efforts. For the Lifestyle posers, bio-based products give the opportunity to show off with fancy products. Also highly relevant are products that influence the body, get in touch with food and drinks and give opportunity to a great visibility and offer potential to show off: Tupperware, plastic cutlery, water bottles, coffee cups, wrappings as well as baby toys such as teethers or rattles. Consumers want to be educated by the politics Consumers feel overwhelmed, not competent and not responsible for the decision which materials are good or bad. Respondents wanted a simple, official and trustworthy label to help them identify the good materials. This result calls into question the numerous consumer awareness projects currently underway. Perhaps the development of a labelling system would be more helpful. bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/20] Vol. 15 39

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