In a recently issued report, Aite Group has called upon issuers of credit and debit cards to create more environmentally friendly cards. Aite Group is a “global research and advisory firm delivering comprehensive, actionable advice on business, technology, and regulatory issues and their impact on the financial services industry.”
In a statement about the report, Aite said, “Although plastic is ubiquitous, it can negatively affect the environment during its production and when it is discarded. Sea life may experience the biggest impact as millions of tons of plastic accumulates in oceans and waterways. There are glimpses of hope, however, and tides may be shifting in favor of environmental sustainability. Financial institutions are not likely to be immune to this shift, but environmentally friendly card materials may enable them to reduce plastic waste. A new Aite Group report, Eco-Friendly Card Material: Bringing Sustainability to Card Issuance, provides background on the global sustainability movement and research that indicates that consumers are more cognizant of environmental issues and favor products marketed as sustainable.”
Aite Group Senior Analyst David Shipper stated, “In support of changing attitudes and behaviors, environmentally friendly card materials enable financial institutions to potentially reduce plastic waste and the need for first-use polyvinyl chloride, which is considered to cause environmental damage during production.”
Why are credit and debit cards troublesome for the environmental movement?
According to Creditcards.com, “Most bank cards are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a strong, versatile and cheap synthetic polymer that literally surrounds us, from the flooring, pipes and insulated electrical wiring in our homes to the leatherette clothing and waterproof ski wear in our closets. But because PVC is also a known carcinogen, it’s not exactly attractive to curbside garbage crews or recyclers”
With approximately 6 billion credit and debit cards generated each year and replaced by issuers every 3 to 4 years, that’s a lot of waste that goes into landfills.
The industry may be listening. Euronews, an international news outlet reports that, “In order to reduce the amount of excess plastic in landfill, global payment network Mastercard is launching a sustainable card programme to offer to banks and issuers. The new, eco-friendly cards will be made from either recyclable, biodegradable or reclaimed ocean plastics.”
If all card issuers got on board with changes to the composition of their cards, a sizable impact could be made worldwide. Which would be good news for the entire world.