Mastercard unveiled a directory of sustainable alternatives to plastic payment cards on Thursday in an attempt to cut down on the huge volumes of plastic credit and debit cards that are discarded in landfills.
Roughly six billion payment cards are produced every year across the world, typically from non-biodegradable PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic, according to the global payments firm. These cards are replaced on average every three to four years, contributing to tonnes of landfill waste annually.
“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. This way, everyone benefits – it’s better for the environment, it’s better for business and it meets evolving consumer needs,” says Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligence, Mastercard.
It hopes the new resource directory will encourage banks to issue payment cards made from recycled, chlorine-free and degradable alternatives.
More than 60 financial institutions, including Credit Agricole, Mauritius Commercial Bank and Santander, have already issued eco-friendly cards, said Mastercard.
"The directory is being offered to financial institutions worldwide, including the Mena region. We have global as well as regional vendors in the UAE with sustainable products. We're excited to see our efforts gaining traction in so many parts of the world," Mr Bhalla told The National.
Mastercard said it developed the sustainable card material directory at its digital security lab in the UK, where it analyses the products used in payment cards to verify the environmental claims made by manufacturers. Researchers at the lab are also considering environmentally friendly ways to recycle existing plastic cards.
This initiative is a part of Mastercard’s efforts to develop a global certification scheme for sustainable cards.