Reward card mooted for green products, services

The National Consumer Council is hoping to persuade local authorities to copy the example of Rotterdam and introduce a reward card for sustainable products and services.

Introduced last year, the "NU card" aims to increase demand for sustainable products, stimulate recycling and promote take-up of public transport. The scheme was launched by the Dutch Environment Department, the Rotterdam public transport organisation RET and the local waste management company Roteb, with support from the European Commission's LIFE programme.

The card is similar to a loyalty card. Cardholders are awarded points as a reward for buying products such as appliances with an "A" rating under the EU energy label scheme or organic food, or for taking certain waste items to recycling centres. These can then be used to pay for refurbished products, repair services or public transport and other forms of sustainable transport, such as bike rental or car share schemes.

The operators hope to extend the scheme to the whole of the Netherlands in the "medium term", and have asked the Commission to study the feasibility of transferring the concept to other Member States.

A seminar on the scheme, held in November by the NCC and New Economics Foundation, was attended by a small number of retailers, including John Lewis and the Co-op, plus representatives from local government and the Environment Department's Advisory Committee on Consumer Products and the Environment. Environment Minister Elliot Morley has said that DEFRA does not plan to commission a study of the scheme but described it as "an interesting approach".1

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