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Circular economy and plastics food packaging: an investigation of business models, supply chain management and consumers’ behaviour implications in the retail sector (PhD Business Studies)

Cardiff Business School

Dr Nicole Koenig-Lewis , Dr Roberta De Angelis , Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues Monday, May 31, 2021 Self-Funded PhD Students Only
Cardiff United Kingdom Business Climate Science Management Marketing Business & Management

About the Project

Plastic waste and pollution have generated widespread concern since research has warned that there may be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the ocean by 2050 (WEF et al., 2016). Meanwhile, the circular economy has attracted a significant interest of business leaders, policy makers and academics. Adopting circular economy principles in the plastics industry could shrink the annual volume of plastics entering oceans by over 80%, save USD 200 billion per year, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25%, and create 700,000 net additional jobs by 2040 (Pew Charitable Trusts & SYSTEMIQ, 2020). Eliminate, innovate and circulate are the three principles guiding the New Plastics Economy, a public-private collaboration seeking to promote a circular economy for plastic. Within this, retailers and consumers play a crucial role in reducing single-use plastic food packaging and the market penetration of alternative sustainable food packaging (Ketelsen, Janssen, & Hamm 2020). Using mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods and with a focus on plastic food packaging and the British retail sector, this PhD project aims to explore: a) businesses approaches seeking to eliminate single-use plastic that is not needed, innovate to ensure plastic in use is suitable for recycling, reusing, composting, and circulate plastic that is no longer in use; b) social and psychological factors affecting consumers’ attitudes and behaviours to reduce single-use plastics and to adopt circular food packaging options and examine behaviour change interventions, and c) implications for supply chains management.


Ketelsen, M., Janssen, M., & Hamm, U. (2020). Consumers’ response to environmentally-friendly food packaging - A systematic review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 254, 120123.

Pew Charitable Trusts, & SYSTEMIQ 2020. Breaking the plastic wave. Retrieved January 2021 from

WEF, EMF, & McKinsey & Company. 2016. The New Plastics Economy - Rethinking the Future of Plastics. Retrieved January 2021 from

Keywords: Circular economy, plastic food packaging, circular business models, retail supply chains and customer behaviour

Desired applicant profile:

  • open to mixed-methods research
  • undergraduate-level knowledge on business statistics
  • awareness of marketing, supply chain management and sustainability

Funding Notes

This project is not funded, applications from self-funded home and international students are welcome. Outstanding applicants from ANY country may be considered for one of the available University scholarships. The start date is 1st October 2021.
Applications are open until 31st May 2021, however if sufficient applications are received we reserve the right to close the application early.
For more information about scholarships, entry requirements and application process please visit our website: View Website


When applying, please specify the project title and supervisor of this project and whether you are self-funded or are applying for funding (within or external to the University).
The application must contain the following documents:
1. Covering letter: The covering letter must name the project being applied for and should be addressed to the supervisor. It must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages.
2. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.
4. Curriculum Vitae: This should be no longer than two pages.
5. Research Proposal: The proposal should build directly on the project description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
• Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
• An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
• Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
• A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);
• Bibliographic references
This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team (

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