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Eco-costs and Eco-credits scheme: A rewarding system for consumer eco-friendly behaviours

CIRC4Life aims to encourage sustainable consumption by developing a system rewarding consumer’s eco-friendly behaviors. The Eco-costs and Eco-credits system was designed to encourage end-users to reuse and recycle their small electronic products. In addition, it shows consumers the direct impact on the environment of their purchases (Eco-costs) by scanning the label of the products via the CIRC4Life app. This is called Eco-shopping.


The end-user’s environmental impact is recorded in an Eco-account in the mobile app. By engaging in sustainable practices such as reusing and recycling of their electronic devices (tablets and mobile phones) or lamps, consumers will earn Eco-credits. They can then be exchanged for a reward such as a discount on a product, a theatre ticket or they can be donated to planting trees.


The first version of the system

We initially created a scheme in which eco-debits (now called Eco-costs) would indicate the consumer’s negative ecological impact resulting from the products purchased. The consumers’ actions would thus be summed-up in an eco-account, used to record consumers’ eco-debits generated by the purchases and eco-credits related to the reuse and recycling activities of electronic devices.


As our project is based on co-creation and testing with end-users, this is what we did. We tested the eco-points system (now called eco-costs/eco-credits scheme) with end-users at different occasions such as during the innovation camp, we also conducted several consumer surveys and living labs activities.


However, we noticed the system was not being clearly understood by end-users and was not appealing to them. In addition, despite the fact that consumers engaged in sustainable practices such as reusing and recycling, the sum of the eco-debits linked to purchases was always higher, giving a negative eco-account balance. We realised that this was therefore failing to incentivise consumers.


Based on these results, we decided to adapt the system as such:


  • As the term “eco-debits” was not being clearly understood by end-users, we turned it into “eco-costs”, highlighting the costs their purchases have on the environment,

  • Instead of a total eco-balance (eco-debits minus eco-credits), we now have a separate eco-account balance: one for eco-credits and one for eco-costs. The eco-account will record consumers’ eco-costs and eco-credits related to purchasing and recycling activities- as shown below.

  • The next step in order to test if our new eco-costs/eco-credits scheme is being better understood will be to launch a final survey this autumn on this scheme.

How are eco-costs calculated?


Eco-costs are calculated using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) framework focusing on a wide range of environmental issues (e.g. climate change, human health) that occur at product life cycle stages (e.g. materials used, production process, packaging, transportation, product reuse, recycling, and disposal).


Eco-costs are demonstrated as a single score via weighting, which allows to easily compare the environmental impact of different products. This approach facilitates decision making, since it is clear

whether a product’s environmental impact is higher, lower or similar to alternative products. This aims to support users to become active caretakers of the resources included in the product and take full responsibility for their consumption patterns, impacts and use of resources.


For more information on the development of the eco-costs/eco-credits scheme: here

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