NU Spaarpas – The Netherlands

Another exemplification of the possible complementarity between conventional money (i.e. the Euro) and other types of currencies comes from the domain of ‘green currencies‘. For instance, according to Peter North, in Rotterdam the NU Spaarpas was a ‘green loyalty point’ currency that was piloted from May 2002 to September 2003. ‘Green points’ were earned when residents separated their waste for recycling, used public transport, or used locally owned shops.

Residents who owned points had the possibility to redeem them in exchange for public transport tickets. Alternatively, residents could use them as discounts on sustainable products: for example, organic food, bicycles, green products or still renewable energy. North stresses that by September 2003, 10,000 households had the card, over 100 shops were participating and 1.5 million points had been issued.

The number of points issued and cashed was, however, much lower than foreseen because the system came up to speed much later than expected and the number of places to spend the points was still quite limited at the end of the pilot. Unfortunately, such promising sustainability-oriented programme by means of a complementary currency ended for lack of funding – albeit organizers Paul van Sambeek and Edgar Kampers argue that the NU card scheme offers government bodies solutions for interaction and communication with the populace for a certain price, which, compared with general communication programmes, will prove to be quite cheap and effective.

NU Spaarpas

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