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Green nudges

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, a study conducted in collaboration with Alibaba’s online food delivery platform, Eleme, in China found that implementing “no disposable cutlery” as the default choice for orders and rewarding customers with “green points” led to a significant increase in the share of no-cutlery orders, with a 648% overall increase.
  • Zomato, a prominent online food delivery platform in India, introduced similar nudges, changing the default option to “no-cutlery” in August 2021, resulting in a significant reduction in cutlery waste.

More about the news

  • Green nudges are gentle persuasions to influence environmentally friendly behaviour in people, often used in behavioural economics to guide decision-making without restricting choices.
  • The study employed a statistical technique called the difference-in-differences model to compare the effects of green nudges on food-ordering behaviour in experimental cities versus control cities.
  • Green nudges introduced on Alibaba’s platform made “no cutlery” the default choice, requiring customers to actively select an alternative option, and rewarded users with “green points” for no-cutlery orders, which could be redeemed for planting trees in China’s deserts.
  • The green nudges were implemented in response to Chinese regulations prohibiting the inclusion of single-use cutlery (SUC) in food orders unless explicitly requested.
  • Findings revealed a significant increase in the share of no-cutlery orders in cities with green nudges, driven by the default setting change on the app.
  • The study also examined user characteristics and found that women and middle-aged or elderly individuals showed a more positive response to green nudges.
  • Affluence appeared to play a role, with users of more expensive phones and those ordering pricier meals responding more to green nudges.
  • Over 18 months in Shanghai, eight months in Beijing, and one month in Tianjin, the number of SUCs reduced by over 225.33 million sets, potentially preventing 4,506.52 metric tonnes of waste and saving 56,333 trees.

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