Mastercard developed a new sustainable card program for card issues globally aimed at reducing the amount of first-use polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic used for manufacturing cards. The company also introduced a directory of sustainable materials and vendors for financial institutions.
Six billion payment cards get produced every year, and they’re usually made from PVC, according to Mastercard. “These cards are replaced on average every three to four years, with discarded cards going to landfills across the world,” the global bank card payment transaction processor said.
In response, Mastercard created a program to help card issuers transition to more sustainable materials, including a directory of those materials and where to find them worldwide. The company has already approved 28 products as alternatives to first-use PVC in payment cards. They include polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), wood, and polylactic acid (PLA).
HDPE can be recovered from the ocean, PLA is industrially compostable, and PETG has the potential to be integrated into existing mechanical recycling, according to the company.
“With this resource, banks can learn more about these alternatives, connect to card manufacturers, and ultimately augment their own sustainability initiatives with a systemic change to their supply chain,” Mastercard said.
Currently Mastercard’s sustainable card offerings are available in more than 12 countries. At least 60 financial institutions, including Crédit Agricole and Mauritius Commercial Bank, have issued cards with approved materials that are recyclable, bio-sourced, chlorine-free, and degradable, the company said. Santander Bank plans to issue the cards soon.
“We want to help banks offer more eco-friendly cards to consumers, and we are taking concrete steps to bring about that change,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligence for Mastercard. “It’s better for the environment, it’s better for business, and it meets evolving consumer needs.”
The new program builds on the Greener Payments Partnership, which Mastercard formed in 2018 with card manufacturers Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, and Idemia to establish environmental best practices and address first-use PVC plastic in card manufacturing. In the future, Mastercard said that it plans to launch a global certification scheme for approved sustainable cards.