Last updated on September 6th, 2023
In April 2023, Mastercard announced its quickened efforts to withdraw first–use PVC plastics from payment cards on its network by 2028. Last month, Mastercard put the pilot launch of its recycling program into effect. Here’s what you need to know.
Mastercard Begins Recycling Efforts for Plastic Credit & Debit Cards
Mastercard, the second-largest payment network worldwide, is pushing its sustainability goals with a new initiative for recycling old credit cards. The company’s global project was launched in June 2023 and its ultimate goal is to save billions of credit and debit cards in circulation across the industry from ending up in landfills.
Mastercard claims banks across the world will eventually be able to join the program. Some banks have already launched local initiatives – these efforts can help build economies of scale (in other words, cost reduction.) Mastercard has begun collaborating with HSBC and recycling specialist TerraCycle to begin the sustainability plan for plastic cards.
How Does The Mastercard Recycling Program Work?
The program will be piloted in select HSBC banks in the United Kingdom (UK) across eight branches. HSBC patrons will be able to securely recycle old plastic cards in-branch, after which Mastercard will supply shredding machines to HSBC, each capable of holding 10,000 cards – equivalent to 110 pounds of plastic. Once the machines fill up, they will get transferred to a plastic recycling facility, where they will be recycled into plastic pellets for reuse.
Furthermore, the Mastercard recycling program accepts all plastic cards for recycling, including those belonging to its competitors. The project will run for six months.
The Challenges of Plastic Use
According to statistics, 9.1 billion tons of plastic have been produced since it was introduced in the 1950s. In fact, 79% of the plastic that has ever been made still sits in landfills or the natural environment, except for small amounts that have been incinerated or recycled. The sitting plastic in landfills is not harmless, as it breaks down into tiny toxic particles which contaminate the soil and waterways. As a result, the contamination can enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them.
According to a Reuters article, Mastercard has around 3.1 billion cards in circulation. The payment network has estimated about 600 million cards are produced by the industry, each with a life span of about five years. It’s no surprise sustainability efforts from Mastercard include card recycling as the manufacturing process for plastic is a significant source of planet-warming greenhouse gas and plays a role in the pollution of rivers and oceans.
“A More Sustainable, More Environmentally Conscious Future”
Jose Carvalho, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC UK, said: “Working sustainably to reduce, reuse and remove plastic from our business is something we have been doing successfully for a while, and we are continuing to look at new and different ways we can make a difference, reducing the environmental impact of our operations along the way.
Cutting up your cards and disposing of them at home in your recycling bin might not be advisable, as payment cards are a complex mix of plastic, metal and a chip and could taint a batch of recycling, so providing this option in some of our branches provides customers with an important opportunity to recycle these securely and correctly. This recycling pilot will provide us with some very important insight and will inform our longer-term plans.”
Ajay Bhalla, President of Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard, said: “We know people want to make more eco-friendly choices. Together we are pursuing a more sustainable, more environmentally conscious future. So today, we are reinforcing our commitment. Starting with HSBC we are enabling banks to reduce the environmental impact of their operations – for the benefit of people and planet.”
Related Article: How to Dispose of Old Credit Cards