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An assessment of attitudes towards plastics and bioplastics in Europe.

Filho, Walter Leal and Salvia, Amanda Lange and Bonoli, Alessandra and Saari, Ulla A and Voronova, Viktoria and Klõga, Marija and Kumbhar, Sonali Suraj and Olszewski, Katharina and De Quevedo, Daniela Müller and Barbir, Jelena (2020) An assessment of attitudes towards plastics and bioplastics in Europe. Science of the Total Environment. p. 142732. ISSN 0048-9697

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Abstract

Over the last 50 years, conventional fossil-based plastics have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Apart from their low production costs, this is due to a number of their unique properties, including durability, strength, lightness, electrical and thermal insulation, resistance to chemicals and corrosion. The production of plastics has increased from 1.5 million metric tons in 1950 to 359 million metric tons in 2018. Of this total, 61.8 million metric tons were produced in Europe. There are various problems associated with plastic use and disposal that pose a serious threat to both the physical environment and human health. Since public behaviour plays a key role when it comes to the use of plastic, this paper reports on a study that focused on an assessment of attitudes towards plastics and bioplastics in Europe. The results showed that packaging is the most frequent modality of plastic used among participants. In addition, majority of participants are aware that plastic waste can affect environment and human health and therefore segregate and properly dispose plastics. Also, even though most respondents were aware of the environmental problems related to plastic use and showed a positive inclination towards using bioplastic materials, their limited availability and lack of relevant information about bioplastics pose a problem for wider use. Departing from the assumption that the public attitude is a determining factor in the consumption of plastics as a whole and bioplastics in particular, this paper also sheds some light on the current situation, identifying some trends and information gaps which should be addressed in order to encourage a more rational use of plastics in Europe.

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