Source: Godfrey Elimian/Technext

Mastercard wants to partner with banks to provide collection boxes where you can deposit your expired debit and credit cards — even if they’re not issued by Mastercard — where they’ll be shredded and sent for recycling. The company announced the rollout of its global card recycling program on Wednesday.

Also, the material from your card, including the chip, will then be separated and smelted to turn it into new products. In helping to reduce plastic waste, the company believes it is fulfilling its core strategy of helping to curtail the financial industry’s contribution to the human-caused climate crisis.

Credit cards might be small, but with around 25 billion cards currently in circulation, all that plastic can add up when the time comes to dispose of them. Currently, about one garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped in the ocean every minute, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

This plastic waste can harm biodiversity by damaging natural habitats and killing wildlife. In turn, this can negatively impact human’s ability to prevent climate-linked weather events and can damage food production capabilities.

Mastercard is helping to recycle debit and credit cards to reduce plastic waste

Mastercard is now hoping to make it simple for individuals to play their part in this process by providing widespread recycling boxes, and the company is inviting every single bank in the world to become a partner in its program. The boxes contain a shredder that will tear up your card when it’s inserted, and they can hold up to 10,000 cards before they need to be emptied.

The company also announced earlier this year that ATM cards must be made from sustainable materials by 2028.

Why there is an urgent need for plastic waste recycling

Plastic waste has become a global environmental crisis, posing a significant threat to the health of our planet. As non-biodegradable materials accumulate in landfills and pollute our oceans, urgent measures are required to mitigate the adverse effects of plastic waste.

Climate experts agree that ending humans’ reliance on fossil fuels is the most crucial step that can be taken to address climate change. Activists are leaning heavily on financial institutions to stop funding oil and gas projects, take their fair share of responsibility for the damage done, and conduct business more sustainably.

Mastercard payment cards will be made exclusively from recycled plastic by 2028

Banks and other financial institutions have a key role to play when it comes to fighting the climate crisis. In 5 years after the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s 60 biggest banks have financed fossil fuels — the biggest contributing factor to the warming of the planet — to the tune of $3.8 trillion, according to a 2021 report from nonprofit Banking on Climate Chaos.

Plastic waste is detrimental to the environment due to its long-lasting nature. Traditional plastics can take hundreds of years to decompose, leading to their accumulation in landfills and natural ecosystems. Producing them takes a toll on the environment by sending polluting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Recycling is a vital strategy in combatting plastic waste and preserving our planet’s health. By diverting plastic from landfills, recycling minimizes the volume of waste and conserves valuable resources. It reduces the demand and needs for new plastic production, thus curbing greenhouse gas emissions and lessening the dependence on fossil fuels. Additionally, recycling promotes a circular economy, where materials are reused, reducing the need for raw materials extraction and energy-intensive manufacturing processes.

Mastercard’s recent fight against plastic waste

Mastercard recently announced plans to completely phase out first-use PVC plastic from its network of payment cards by 2028 and produce cards made from recycled plastics only.

The company formed the Greener Payments Partnership with card manufacturers Gemalto, Giesecke+Devrient, and IDEMIA in 2018 through its Digital Security Lab to limit the usage of first-use PVC plastic in card manufacturing. Banks that partner with the financial behemoth are located in more than 80 different nations. In 2021, it introduced the Mastercard Card Eco-Certification (“CEC”) program.

Since launching its Sustainable Card Program in 2018, over 330 issuers across 80 countries have signed up, working in partnership with major card manufacturers to transition more than 168 million cards across its network to recycled and bio-based materials.

While the institution’s initiatives are a significant stride towards tackling plastic waste, the responsibility lies with all stakeholders to contribute to this cause. Financial institutions, businesses, and individuals must collaborate to implement effective recycling programs, promote eco-friendly alternatives to plastic, and adopt sustainable practices.

The first bank to sign up is HSBC in the UK, but banks in the US and elsewhere may swiftly follow. Mastercard says it has an infrastructure in place to support card recycling in every region of the world.

Source: Godfrey Elimian/Technext