Japan is rewarding people who reduce their climate impact through everyday decisions such as participating in ride shares, buying energy-saving home appliances or declining single-use plastics.
The initiative is part of a wide-ranging government program to support dozens of retailers such as e-commerce giant Rakuten Group Inc and shopping mall operator Aeon Mall Co, which are expanding loyalty point schemes to incentivize customers to make greener buying decisions. People can use those earned credits toward online purchases, airline mileage points or even, in some cases, investments.
“We hope to encourage people to make positive and proactive behavioral changes,” Japanese Minister of the Environment Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi said at the program launch on Tuesday.
It is the latest effort by Japan to signal to consumers that their lifestyles need to be adapted in the fight against climate change.
Tokyo officials last month urged residents to watch an hour less of TV per day and to refrain from using heater functions on toilet seats until winter in an effort to reduce electricity demand.
The program also extends to reward schemes managed by local municipalities and nonprofits.
Sakai City is to use an app to help people track when they decline plastic cutlery, use ride-sharing schemes or opt to have dry-cleaned clothes folded to avoid the use of single-use hangers.
Loyalty programs, which grant people credit for future purchases, are extremely popular in Japan.
In a survey taken by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, 85 percent of respondents said they most wanted a point-reward system in supermarkets and more than 60 percent said they would be inclined to try more environmentally friendly action that they do not usually take if there were incentives.
Japan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from households, which account for 60 percent of its life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions.
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