Understanding consumer disposal behaviour with food to go packaging in a move to circular, zero waste packaging solutions

It is clear that a shift from the current make-use-dispose mentality of product consumption is required to move to the ideal of a Circular Economy (CE), where the world’s resources are kept in use for as long as possible and their value retained. The idea of waste as a resource within a CE is not new, but the pressure to apply it to the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) packaging industry has been growing in momentum since 2016. Many research studies have focussed on recycling behaviours in the home, but few have looked at consumers behaviour with food to go (FTG) packaging disposed out of the home. This research set out to assess the habit strengths of millennial consumers disposing of FTG packaging out of the home within the UK. The outcome of this research showed that millennial consumers have strong habits (upper quartile) in relation to their FTG packaging disposal routine. However, a significant percentage of participants were placing FTG packaging into incorrect recycling bins, showing there is still confusion amongst consumers about how to dispose of waste out of the home. Understanding of habit strengths at the packaging disposal stage could be one element to help in the design of interventions within packaging or waste system design, developing the responsible consumer behaviours required for a circular, zero waste society to exist.