Consumer Preference and Willingness to Pay for Non-Plastic Food Containers in Honolulu, USAReport as inadecuate

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Expanded polystyrene EPS, a petroleum based plastic polystyrene, has an immense environmental impact with a degradation rate of over 500 years, and is a possible human carcinogen that may cause cancer in humans. Nonetheless, EPS is the most commonly used material to produce takeout food containers, a single use item that is quickly discarded. With growing recognition of the high environmental costs of EPS products and their pressure on landfill resources, EPS food container bans have become increasingly popular in jurisdictions across the globe. Similar legislation has been introduced in the state of Hawaii, USA. However, since EPS is currently more cost effective than its alternatives, the widespread adoption of food containers produced with biodegradable materials remains a challenge. This study employs Conjoint Choice Experiment CCE to determine consumer preference and willingness to pay for plant-based EPS alternative takeout food containers and their various product attributes in the urban center of Honolulu, Hawaii. Latent Class Analysis LCA is used to cluster respondents into four distinct classes based on their observable attributes of choice. Results show that the majority of respondents 81.0% are in favor of a ban on EPS takeout food containers. As an alternative, the majority of respondents prefer a container constructed out of a sugarcane material 66.49% that is microwaveable 88.94%, water resistant 100%, and locally produced 51.23%. Moreover, this study demonstrates an increase in consumer’s willingness to pay for more environmentally friendly food containers, which may allow businesses to offset the costs of substituting EPS for biodegradable materials. These findings provide valuable information for farmers, manufacturers, and natural resource managers, and can help to guide decision makers when considering socially responsible and environmentally sustainable policies.


Expanded Polystyrene EPS, Plastic Food Containers, Conjoint Choice Experiment CCE, Latent Class Analysis LCA, Consumer Preference, Honolulu

Cite this paper

M. Barnes, C. Chan-Halbrendt, Q. Zhang and N. Abejon -Consumer Preference and Willingness to Pay for Non-Plastic Food Containers in Honolulu, USA,- Journal of Environmental Protection, Vol. 2 No. 9, 2011, pp. 1264-1273. doi: 10.4236-jep.2011.29146.

Author: Michele Barnes, Catherine Chan-Halbrendt, Quanguo Zhang, Noe Abejon



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