Date of Award

12-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Packaging Science

Advisor

COOKSEY, KAY

Committee Member

Duchowski, Andrew

Committee Member

Kilbourne, William

Abstract

In the United States, the use of the chasing arrows is the most recognizable label for consumers to interpret the recyclability of packaging and other materials. Yet, the use of the label can be used interchangeably for different purposes, which may lead to misinterpretation of the label. Recently, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) revamped the recycle label to provide more information, avoid confusion, and misinterpretation. Recycle rates have only increased seven percent in the past decade. Furthermore, there is a lack of research about the utility of recycle labels in efforts to increase recycling rates. The over-arching goals of this research was two-fold. First, it was to see if attitudes and behaviors predict seeing the recycle label. Secondly, it was to evaluate whether the location of the recycle label affects consumers viewing it. Our study used eye tracking as a methodology to observe viewing the SPC’s recycle label on four cereal packages. Two of the packages were simulated natural clay coated paperboard and two were white clay coated paperboard. The locations were alternated on the packaging. We administered two surveys; one attitudinal and the other behavioral after the participants viewed the packages (N=61). The surveys were analyzed using factor and discriminate analysis to derive whether attitudes and behaviors are predictors of viewing the recycle label. Eye tracking provided data to find what kinds of labels are glanced at most often on packaging. Based on our sample, our findings indicate that attitudes and behaviors are not good predictors of viewing the recycle label. However, attitudes should be considered for placing the recycle label on natural packaging. Eye tracking provided evidence that the recycle label does not attract as many glances in comparison to other labels. Also, participants saw the recycle label more frequently on the back of the package than the bottom of the package.

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