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.