News and resources on ESG data and technology, Impact Investing and Sustainable Finance initiatives and best practices.
Mastercard launches sustainable card programme

Mastercard launches sustainable card programme

Mastercard is launching a sustainable card programme to get its card issuers to switch to greener alternatives such as recycled, biodegradable and ocean plastics.

Around six billion payment cards are produced each year - most of them made from non-biodegradable plastics such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Replaced every 3-4 years, these cards then collectively contribute around 5.7m tons of excess plastic in landfill around the world.

Mastercard initiated a Green Payments Partnership (GPP) in 2018 to help the payments industry reduce its reliance on first-use PVC plastic in card manufacturing.

“Our goal is simple: we want to help banks offer more eco-friendly cards to consumers, and we are taking concrete steps to bring about that change," says Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber & Intelligence, Mastercard. "This way, everyone benefits - it’s better for the environment, it’s better for business and it meets evolving consumer needs."

Already, more than 60 financial institutions - including top tier banks such as DBS, Santander and Crédit Agricole - are to begin issuing cards with approved materials.

“We’re pleased to partner with Mastercard on this important environmental initiative with the new DBS Eco Card, the first credit card in Asia made from polylactic acid — a renewable and biodegradable polymer material that emits no toxic gases during incineration,” says LIM Him Chuan, general manager of DBS Bank (Taiwan). “With DBS and Mastercard focused on sustainability, this card underscores our commitment to protecting the environment as the way forward for everyone.”

To help further the effort, Mastercard has created a directory of sustainable card materials including information on where to source them, to help banks and other card issuers make the transition.

Mastercard’s Global DigiSec Lab in the UK is behind the science and research into the material makeup of a card to assess environmental claims on behalf of the industry.

“We know our customers are looking for more sustainable products and looking for ways to effect positive change in the world. This approach has enabled us to not only deliver on a consumer need but also offer a product that’s in line with our corporate sustainability values,” says Marco Briata, head of digital & payments - Crédit Agricole Italia.

The switch to sustainable plastics was given a further boost last month, when Visa announced plans to roll out cards made from recycled materials to all financial institutions globally. The card scheme has collaborated with CPI Card group to produce the 'Earthwise High Content Card', which is made with up to 98% upcycled plastic.

Comments: (5)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 22 July, 2020, 11:372 likes 2 likes

Its great to see the raised awareness on alternative plastics for card manufacturing - PLA is the first step, recycled and Ocean take it to the next level.

The question that needs to be asked is are Banks prepared to pay for the increase in costs in using these materials and/or will consumers be happy to subsidise for a greener product ?

Regardless of the offering rest assured G+D have also developed products to support these iniatives also :-)


Yahya Mohamed Mao
Yahya Mohamed Mao - Swiss GRC - Switzerland 22 July, 2020, 12:361 like 1 like

The intention is admirable and I was recently having a discussion regarding the lack of sustainability when it comes to bank cards. Now it's up to the banks and the question definitely is if they are willing and prepared to pay for the increase in costs or maybe the costs are even lower? I would be happy to subsidise for a greener product.

Uwe Haertel
Uwe Haertel - Entersekt Europe - Munich 22 July, 2020, 12:501 like 1 like

after having issued the first bio-degradable credit cards together with Raiffeisen Bank International in Austria in 2012 it is good to see that topic becoming main-stream!

Hitesh Thakkar
Hitesh Thakkar - SME - Fintech startups (APAC and Africa) - India 29 July, 2020, 05:27Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Banks can align such initiative with CSR (Corporate socila resposibilities) to contribute in sustainable and reusable material under such program.

We have seen good traction by the banks promoting Green PIN to reduce use of PIN mailers to reduce paper use as well as saving on logistics ( fuel usage).

Going further, card's form factor itself is changing where in Virtual cards have started prevailing in Australian and some more matured markets.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 29 July, 2020, 08:011 like 1 like

I agree, businesses and individuals all play a part in the impact we make to the environment. Improving card make up, recycling, carbon offsetting - it all helps.

The industry is doing what it can to reduce impacts across the whole life cycle of plastics and now needs the wider community to play its part as well. 

Its fair to say - all plastics aren't good for the enviroment if not disposed of in a sustainable way.....thats the problem. Plastics are fantatic materials and used in every indusrty to great effect. The waste and disposal is the real enemy.