Conserval involves consumers with its sustainable model

A viable, efficient technology does not always imply a socially sustainable model attached. At CONSERVAL, citizens’ engagement is paramount, since a circular economy relies on the whole production and consumption chain. That is why the Comportamiento Social y Psicometría Aplicada (COSOYPA) research group is building up an acceptance and perception model for the products derived from the canning industry, as a foundation for the eventual communications plan. The ultimate goal is a diversified sector, able to convert environmental concerns into another source of income.

Studying sustainable behaviors goes hand in hand with the business plan for the CONSERVAL partners. Whatever the profit from wastewater and by-products recovery may be, consumer’s willingness will surely determine the adoption and investment in these new techniques. COSOYPA, a team directly tied to the  Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, is thus analyzing market barriers for this sustainable resource, which may be of use in food supplements and additives, oil, fodder, flour, medicines, cosmetics, pesticides, paint, or plastic containers.

Potential consumers will first be invited to participate in a focus group, which will reflect various sociodemographics. They will be accompanied by consumers, producers, wholesale and retail associations; and also by public opinion leaders and information prescribers, agents that can drive or influence common or minorities’ points of view. Following the theoric framework from social psychology, this first phase will determine the cognitive, social, and perceptive dimensions of transforming waste into high-value by-products.

Divided by sectors -pharmaceuticals, food, chemicals- and regions of interest, the consumers are to help registry perceptions and beliefs that origin spontaneously regarding innovative, sustainable products, or maybe pre-existing, whether they are shared or controversial. This qualitative information is expected to give a series of samples which later on will serve to design and implement a wider questionnaire.

The last effort will consist of the statistical study upon the general poll, weighting variables deemed a barrier for recovered products with those that might help reach new markets. Once the final model is obtained, the Fundación Universidad-Empresa Gallega (FEUGA) will assist COSOYPA in the ellaboration of a communications plan. Its focus, logically, is aimed at the technology users and final consumers, as well as the marketers of these by-products from the canning industry: volatile fatty acids, protein hydrolysates, and oils. Bringing the technology to the consumer is the only way to a more sustainable, efficient, and non-polluting economy.

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