Motives for Adopting Bio-based Plastic Packaging Materials in the Dutch Food Industry
Dam, W. van
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The purpose of this study is to provide insight into the factors that determine the willingness of brand owners in the Dutch food industry to adopt bio-based plastic packaging. In order to obtain an answer first a conceptual model is developed based on the Five Forces model by Porter, and Roger’s adoption theory. To better determine the appropriate indicators for the measurement of the concepts a pilot consisting of expert interviews is performed. The data for this study is collected by means of an online survey sent to all brand owners in the Dutch food industry. Descriptive statistics of the survey data show that there are only two groups of bio-based plastic adopters among Dutch brand owners: those that are currently considering bio-based plastic packaging, and those that have not considered it yet. Due to the low number of completed questionnaires advanced multivariate statistical methods cannot be used for data analysis. Instead the data analysis is performed using independent T-tests of means for both brand owner groups. These tests identify incentives from the food service industry, expected opportunities for CO2 reduction on both the short-term and long-term, and the importance of the brand name in decision-making as factors that determine the willingness of brand owners to adopt bio-based plastic packaging. The tests also shows that in particular large brand owners, both in terms of employees and packaging volume, are considering the use of bio-based plastic packaging. That brand owners are at best just considering bio-based plastic, and that there are only a few doing even that, indicates that while bio-based plastic packaging remains a substitute product within an already existing industry, it appears to be distinctive enough from petroleum-based packaging to initiate a new product life cycle. Another indication is that the food service industry currently has a more prominent role than retailers due to their stronger customer relationship and higher margins, which make it easier for them to cover the investment costs. There is no need for the government to interfere with regulations to stimulate the use of bio-based plastic packaging. Following the typical product life cycle, brand owners may be expected to gradually extend their activities to other markets, such as retail. One thing to keep in mind with using bio-based plastic is the effect of possible ethical discussions concerning competition with food and genetically modified biomass.