Novel biorefinery supply chains for wastewater valorization and production of high market value bio products using microalgae

BlueBioChain social acceptance survey: What do the consumers think about products circular economy?

A particularly interesting aspect of BlueBioChain Project has eventually been elucidated! 

More specifically, an intrinsic part of bioeconomy and sustainability pillars is the assessment of social impact and perception. Initiatives relevant to the bioeconomy field need to be embraced and supported by society so as to maximize their market and overall impact.

In the context of BlueBioChain, the social acceptance of three valorized products was evaluated through thorough research conducted by the “Environmental Engineering and Sustainability Laboratory” of CERTH. In this sense, CERTH has prepared and circulated a questionnaire tailored to the BlueBioChain products and more specifically about:

(i)                  Cosmeceuticals that contain ingredients extracted from microalgae cultivated in industrial wastewater

(ii)                Food additives that contain ingredients extracted from microalgae cultivated in industrial wastewater

(iii)               Fish that has been fed with microalgae cultivated in industrial wastewater

The objective of the questionnaire was to capture the societal predisposition towards the aforementioned products and in parallel, shed light on the underlying motives and barriers that influence consumers’ perception. Respondents’ time and thoughtful answers provided invaluable input and led to meaningful conclusions about the vague and erratic consumer perception on valorized products. Overall, 123 responses were collected. The findings of the survey indicate a positive predisposition towards the BlueBioChain developed products with more than 52% of the respondents expressing their eagerness to purchase the products (ranging from 52% for fish up to 63% of the respondents for the cosmeceuticals products). A large portion of consumers also indicated their willingness to cover a small price premium.

The main drivers that favor the purchase of the valorized products identified are the effectiveness of the products and the provision of sufficient and clear information on the ingredients and the value chain. The barriers that hamper the selection of these products are associated mainly with safety concerns, to the taste of the product (where applicable), followed by the higher price incurred compared to the conventional counterparts and the lack of trust.

As it can be concluded from the study, public acceptance can be further enhanced if the concerns of the population and identified obstacles are effectively addressed. First, there should be a more effective dissemination of information to the general public about the concept and technology implemented for the formulation of the valorized products. The right information strategy will contribute to the eradication of doubts about the nature of the products and safety concerns and in parallel, the skepticism towards the newly implemented technology will be reduced. The enhancement of disseminated information will have a maximum effect if combined with public’s greater exposure to analogous valorized products, triggering an essential change in the established consumption patterns.

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