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Green Nudges UPSC NOTE

 What are green nudges?

  • Green nudges are gentle persuasions to influence environment-friendly behaviour in people. 

  • In behavioural economics, nudges are interventions that influence people’s choices to make certain decisions without restricting the choices available to them.

Study conducted in China

  • A Professor at University of Hong Kong Guojun  collaborated with Eleme, Alibaba’s food delivery platform, to analyse customer-level response to green nudges on the platform.

  • Changing the default to “no disposable cutlery”, and setting up a reward system “green points”, where points can be redeemed for planting trees in China’s deserts.

  • Historically, nudges focus on short-term impacts, but the Alibaba study showed its persisting effect through individuals’ ordering behaviour.

  • Green nudges that they implemented are easy to understand and transparent to users.

  • The no-cutlery option came with “green points” – a non-pecuniary incentive where 16 points were awarded to a user for every order without single-use cutlery (SUC). 

  • These points could be stored and accumulated in Alipay, Alibaba’s payments app. 

  • Once a user had accumulated 16,000 points, they could redeem them in exchange for a real tree to be planted and named after the customer in a desertified part of China.

  • The Alibaba platform also allowed its users to collect green points through other activities like walking more, taking more public transportation, selling used items, etc.

The purpose of green nudges

  • The green nudges were a result of Chinese regulations that prohibited online food delivery platforms from including SUCs in orders unless explicitly requested. 

  • In early 2020, China announced ambitious plans to phase out single-use plastics from the country, beginning with a country-wide ban on single-use straws by the end of the year.

  • The plan noted that plastic bags would first be banned in the major cities, followed by a ban in all cities and towns. 

  • China plans to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic items in the restaurant industry by 30%.

Do green nudges work in India?

  • According to the study paper, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of SUCs. 

  • If Alibaba had introduced the green nudges to the entire country instead of just in three cities, more than 8.7 billion sets of SUC could have been saved every year in China, in accordance with the 2020 data. 

  • Additionally, total SUC consumption could have dropped by 21.75 billion sets if all food-delivery services in China adopted green nudges. 

  • This would be equivalent to eliminating 3.26 million metric tonnes of plastic waste.

  • Zomato, an online food delivery platform in India that occupies over 50% of market share in the space, also has similar nudges on its app. 

  • While the company says that the option to skip cutlery was always available on its platform, it changed the default selection to “no-cutlery” in August 2021.

  • Zomato’s no-cutlery initiative was designed to reduce not just plastic but overall material waste. 

  • Zomato data suggests that three out of every five orders choose to opt out of receiving cutlery, which has resulted in an estimated 1,000 metric tonne reduction in cutlery waste till now.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Green Nudges UPSC NOTE
Green Nudges UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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