Rewarding consumers for their eco-friendly behaviours

Tuesday. 23 July, 2019

The CIRC4Life project is creating a new eco-points system linked to an innovative incentive scheme to encourage end-users to reuse and recycle their products. It shows the environmental information of a product in a simplified way to end-users in order to promote informed sustainable consumption choices. It also introduces novel features called eco-credits. Users can accumulate these points obtaining eco-credits if they reuse or recycle a product. The end-user’s environmental impacts will be recorded in an eco-account thanks to a mobile app on their smartphones. They will be then able to recycle their products via an intelligent recycling system in a nearby collection point. Eco-credits can be transformed into a discount or a similar incentive when buying another product.

How are eco-points calculated?

Eco-points 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-points will be 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 would 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.

The eco-accounting infrastructure consists of an eco-point method and an eco-accounting platform:

 

  • The eco-point is a cumulative value accounting for an aggregate of the ecological impacts throughout product life cycle. The eco-point is calculated based on the ReCiPe method by summing-up their impact on human health, ecosystem and resource diversity. Based on the eco-point, this method utilises ‘eco-debit’ to show the customer’s negative ecological impact resulted from the products purchased, ‘eco-credit’ to credit customers’ positive behaviour of long-time use, reuse and recycling end-of-life products, ‘eco-shopping’ for consumers to gain the ecological information of the products to be purchased, and ‘consumer eco-account’ to record consumers’ ecological footprints.

  • The eco-accounting platform provides the mechanism to implement the eco-points, eco-debits and eco-credits, and their applications in sustainable production, eco-shopping, reuse/recycle and consumer eco-accounts.

How does the is the Eco-points system work?

  1. Eco-debit, which is used to show the customer’s negative ecological impact resulting from the products purchased. Within the eco-point approach, each product is associated with an eco-point, which is calculated through the product value chain, in which the use stage is included. The product eco-point is then converted to the consumer eco-debits. The eco-point is an absolute value. Considering that the eco-debit represents a negative impact, and in contrast with the eco-credit stated below, the eco-debit value is assigned with a negative sign ‘-‘. For example, if the eco-point of a book is 9, then the eco-debit value of the book is -9.

  2. Eco-credit, which is used to credit the customer’s positive behaviour for their longer-time use, recycling and reuse of the products. Eco-credit value could be higher that Eco-debit value due to longer use time, and hence, the project coordinator Nottingham Trent University will probably have to trace the actual life span and the designed one.

  3. The consumer’s eco-account, which is used to record consumers’ eco-debits and eco-credits related to purchasing and recycling activities, enables consumers to record and track their daily footprints on the environment.

More information on the method will be available once the European Commission reviews it and the report submitted will be available in the CIRC4Life website.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 776503. The views and opinions expressed in this website are purely those of the writers and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.