HSBC and Barclaycard talk up 'green' initiatives

HSBC and Barclaycard talk up 'green' initiatives

In the latest in a series of environmental initiatives by banks in the UK, HSBC has added a 'green option' on its current account which will allow customers to opt out of receving paper-based bank documents, while Barclaycard has launched the Breathe credit card which offers environmentally friendly shopping incentives to cardholders.

Barclaycard's new Breathe cards offer customers a range of incentives to encourage greener spending. For instance cardholders will pay an interest rate of 5.9% on purchases of rail and bus tickets, and get discounts on home insulation, green energy and holidays in the UK.

In addition cardholders will receive all statements and marketing material via the Internet. Furthermore the actual card is made from PETg, which is a more environmentally-friendly material than the PVC of traditional cards, says Barclaycard.

Barclaycard has also promised to donate half of the profits from its Breathe card to Pure, the Clean Planet Trust, which works to combat climate change by investing in low-energy projects. The bank says Barclaycard Breathe will make a minimum £1 million donation to Pure in its first year.

Launching the new card, Amer Sajed, MD of Barclaycard UK, says: "We recognise there is a growing demand for products that promote greener spending and which help to tackle climate change. With Barclaycard Breathe we are seeking to provide consumers with just that."

In a separate move, HSBC says customers that switch to a 'green option' on its current account will be able to opt out of receiving monthly statements, cheque books, letters or other paper documents relating to their accounts. The bank says it is also piloting a system to allow customers to request their terms and conditions and other account documentation electronically.

Mike Oliver, head of current accounts, HSBC, says: "The green account option will remove around 95% of the paper normally associated with a current account - 100 pages in a customer's first year and around 80 pages every year afterwards - which could reduce an individual's household paper waste production by around eight per cent."

Custmers switching to the green options will also receive discounts with green retailers such as Ecotricity - providers of free energy-efficient light bulbs - and online health food shop Goodness Direct.

HSBC says it will make a £5 charitable donation for every account opened with the 'green option' before 26 August 2007. The funds will be shared between WWF, Earthwatch and The Climate Group.

Last week HSBC unveiled a $90 million global environmental efficiency programme. The money will be spent over five years to reduce the bank's impact on the environment through a series of initiatives, including the introduction of renewable energy technology, and water and waste reduction programmes.

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