WRAP was commissioned by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to carry out a pre-pilot feasibility study and trial a range of ‘green nudges’ aimed to positively change individual-level citizen behaviours around single-use plastic at coffee shops in Sweden.

Informed by previous work from PBM Sweden, WRAP tested several ‘green nudges’ in a nationally representative online survey. This explored the barriers and enablers Swedish citizens face when switching to more sustainable beverage cup choices, and their intention to engage with nudges - behaviour change interventions that gently persuade citizens to make the switch by making it easier to do.

The findings helped to gain an understanding of which strategies are likely to prove to be the most effective and acceptable, taking into account any impacts on business income or threats to commercial viability.

A range of green nudges were expected to lead to behaviour change and were deemed acceptable by consumers. Businesses are recommended to trial a package of several nudges, as they are likely to have the most impact.

The focus should be on nudges that reward citizens for using a reusable cup, instead of those that inconvenience them for not doing so. For example:

Default to reusable cups

The barista/server always asks each customer if they want their drink in a reusable cup. There is a charge for disposable cups. The coffee shop introduces a refresh service, allowing customers to wash their cups. This should be combined with rewards.

Exclusive extras for using a reusable cup

New reusable cups come pre-loaded with free drinks. Purchasing a new reusable cup gives VIP access to loyalty schemes. Reusable cups have a scannable code and app which allows pre-payment. The type of reward will be dependent on the business.

These nudges will be trialled in Sweden over the coming months and an evaluation report with their effectiveness and recommendations will be published. Key to success will be engaging with the businesses to determine how the nudges can be implemented and clear targeting of the audience groups highlighted in the report.

This project is part of a larger piece of research for the Behavioural Insights Working Group of the Sustainable Lifestyles and Education Programme. 

Download the pre-trial insights and recommendations report from the UNEP platform