Japan to help reward eco-friendly purchases

Japan's government is set to begin a system for awarding consumers points for eco-friendly acts such as buying energy-conserving household appliances. Points can be exchanged for goods or services.

The Environment Ministry said Tuesday it has selected 26 businesses, local governments and non-profit organizations to take part. The ministry will help pay for the program to begin in August.

Shopping center developer Aeon Mall, for example, will use the system to reward customers who refuse plastic spoons or forks when buying ready-to-eat food.

Ashe, an organization aiming to reduce food waste, is planning to work with the supermarket operator Summit to award points to shoppers who buy food that is close to its expiration date.

E-commerce site operator Rakuten Group will give points to people who buy clothes that use recycled material. Buyers of eco-friendly household appliances and goods with simplified packaging will also get them.

People who use car-sharing services or cooperate to conserve electricity through designated entities can also receive points under the program.

The government is also seeking a second round of firms and groups to use the point system.