The 3Is: Let's INVOLVE, INFORM and INSPIRE the next generation on disposing food packaging sustainably

Victoria Norton, Niki Alexi, Ana Contente, Stella Lignou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Consumers are typically confused and lack knowledge relating to disposing of food packaging sustainably; accordingly, targeted education may help to encourage more sustainable practices and subsequently modulate behaviour. In addition, children represent the next generation, and they need to be involved, informed and inspired so that they can practise correct food packaging disposal from an early age. This paper investigates: (1) children's knowledge relating to food packaging symbols and disposal; and (2) the role of education on children's sustainable food packaging behaviour. A series of workshops were undertaken at primary schools to educate children (7–11 years; n = 195) via interactive, informative and fun activities relating to food packaging symbols and disposal. Children were also provided with an activity booklet and ten food items to be completed at-home for one-week to track appropriate food packaging disposal. Education (pre vs post) had a significant effect on improving knowledge relating to food packaging symbols (tidyman and green dot) and correct disposal practices for the juice bottle, baked bean can, jelly pot, ketchup bottle and pizza box. Importantly, children were able to incorporate sustainable food packaging practices at home; 65% of children correctly identified the right bin for most food items. Overall, there was significant impact on children's learning (84% learnt something new) and future behaviour (83% will change future food packaging disposal behaviour). Therefore, more emphasis should be placed on educating the next generation to promote a shift in everyday sustainable food packaging behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138807
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Children
  • Consumer science
  • Education
  • Food packaging
  • Sustainable behaviour


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