Carbon offsets: The new customer loyalty tool

Loyalty programs provide endless benefits, but for most of us they’re viewed as benefits for individual members or employees.

But as sustainability becomes an increasing focus for everyone, even when it comes to the companies we do business with and the employers we chose to work with, there’s the opportunity for a new, innovative loyalty reward – one that provides benefits for the environment too.

Because climate action is now a driver for customer loyalty.

A recent CHOICE survey shows Australians increasingly want to use their purchasing power for good, with 65 percent of consumers surveyed considering the carbon footprint of their purchases.

Employees are feeling the same. Research by HR software company Elmo found 48 percent of Australians – 71 percent of Gen Z and 52 percent of Millennials – would not work for a business that did not take action to address climate change.

At the same time, social offerings, including programs which connect people with causes, and the ability to donate rewards to charity, have been identified in The Point of Loyalty’s For Love or Money 2022 report as one of the six currencies loyalty program members care about, alongside the likes of financial rewards, experiential offerings and programs that make their users feel special.

It’s clear then that consumers are seeking new, innovative ways to help them make a positive impact on sustainability. That paves the way for a new way to reward your members or employees and give them that glow of satisfaction from doing good by contributing to creating a sustainable planet – and showcasing your business’ commitment to tackling the tough climate issues.

And that new form of loyalty program rewards? Carbon offset eGift cards.

So what are carbon offsets?

A carbon offset is essentially a unit of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, or an increase in carbon storage, such as through land restoration or the planting of trees.

Carbon offsetting works by investing funds in projects that ‘capture’ carbon, or are energy efficient, preventing the release greenhouse gases.

One carbon offset, or carbon credit, represents one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent greenhouse gas (CO2e) that is removed. Once an offset is purchased, it is retired forever and can’t be resold.

For the record, Our World in Data puts Australia’s per capita emissions for the average person at 15.37t in 2020. In comparison, the average for the United States was 14.24t, with New Zealand at 6.94t and the United Kingdom on 4.85t.

While planting trees that sequester carbon in their trunks is one of the most utilised forms of carbon offsetting, projects run the gamut from replacing coal-fired power plants in India with solar or wind farms to agricultural methane capture/combustion.

And it’s not just about neutralising greenhouse emissions. Carbon offsetting, done right, can deliver life-changing social and economic benefits to communities, over and above carbon reduction.

Case in point: In Tamil Nadu in Southern India, wind turbines are providing clean energy and powering a new future for locals. Employment opportunities have increased in an area where climate change has made agriculture increasingly hard. Locals are engaged as engineers, maintenance technicians, onsite operators and security guards, boosting local economies and village services. Energy security is improved and rural electrification has been extended. New roads, built to construct the wind farms, have improved accessibility for locals and the wind farm has funded local schools, vaccination programs and water wells to irrigate crops, bringing life back to parched land.

The case for carbon offsets in your loyalty program

While carbon offsets are mostly used by organisations needing to meet compliance obligations or balance the scales for unavoidable emissions on the path to reduction, increasing numbers of individuals also want to use credits to offset their household’s impact on the environment.

Airlines have been allowing consumers to purchase carbon offsets when booking flights for a number of years, with hotels and car manufacturers also embracing the concept.

(And we have to say this: Offsets are not a free pass to continue emitting! They need to be used in conjunction with actual carbon reductions.)

Sustainability isn’t a new concept for loyalty programs, with some programs allowing loyalty points to unlock credits. What is, however, a new concept is an innovative offering Gratifii is bringing to market, enabling businesses to offer Carbon Offset eGift cards to reward and engage members or employees.

We’ve partnered with Asia Pacific’s most trusted carbon offset company, Tasman Environmental Markets (TEM), and highly respected climate change advisory firm, nDevr Environmental, to support verified carbon offset projects that support native forest regeneration in NSW and Queensland, and renewable energy projects in Asia, including the aforementioned Southern India project, via gift card.

Find out more about our new, innovative loyalty reward here.