Nu Spaarpas

nuspaarpasNu-spaarpas (literally “NOW-incentive card”) was an experimental incentive programme launched in 2000 – 2002, as a European LIFE-demonstration project by the municipality of Rotterdam,  Rabobank and Qoin (named Barataria back then).

Over 10.000 inhabitants of Rotterdam joined by earning Nu-points by separating their waste, shopping at one of the 100 participating local shops and by buying green and fair trade products. The Nu-points could be redeemed for sustainable goods and services, public transport tickets and culture. Target groups were mainstream consumers, shops and governmental services.

Saving the world is your profit!

This is the motto under which the Nu-spaarpas was launched. The incentive card was the first technologically advanced incentive system for sustainable behaviour and sustainable consumption. It was realised in a unique public/private collaboration between the Rotterdam Municipal Authority, Rabobank, and Qoin. The Nu-spaarpas was an attractive option for anyone wishing to encourage sustainability and quality of life at a local level – marketeers, waste processors, public transport companies and scientists. Nu-spaarpas was also attractive to those who think systematically about the changing role of the government and who are looking for appropriate instruments.

How it worked

The Nu-spaarpas card was an incentive system for sustainable purchasing behaviour by consumers. ‘Sustainable’ was taken in the broadest sense: environmentally friendly and low on energy use, but also friendly towards humans and animals, and with regard to solidarity, social issues and quality of life. The system primarily aimed at changing people’s behaviour, and to a lesser extent at changing their mentality. The Nu-spaarpas savings programme promoted sustainability in the following ways:

  • consumers were given a new way of looking at sustainable behaviour
  • consumers were informed about sustainable products and sustainable behaviour
  • the visibility of the range of sustainable products in shops was improved
  • the market share of sustainable products increased
  • sustainability became a more integral part of the way producers, suppliers, retailers and consumers think

Forward thinking

The lessons learned from the Rotterdam project are extremely valuable, and will prove their importance when new initiatives are launched. It is not yet certain how these will be given shape. In the present economic recession, many businesses and government bodies are very cautious about making extra investments. Conversely, however, both the public and the commercial sectors recognise the Nu-spaarpas incentive card programme as an instrument that allows city problems to be dealt with in a modern manner. The Nu-spaarpas trial period and the dissemination of the results show that there is a great deal of interest, both in the Netherlands and abroad, for a complementary currency stimulating sustainable behaviour. 

Download here the final report of the Nu-spaarpas!