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And Now, The Biodegradable Credit Card

A biodegradable credit card? That’s what a company called Sustain:Green is offering for environmentally conscious users, according to Takepart.

But the fact that the card can be tossed onto a compost heap once it has expired isn’t what’s likely to be most attractive to eco-spenders. The card also generates rewards in the form of two pounds of carbon dioxide offsets for every dollar spent. (The first purchase made with the card earns 5,000 pounds of offsets.) The carbon credits help finance reforestation of the Amazon in Brazil to absorb greenhouse gases that are warming the planet.

The card itself is a MasterCard issued by Commerce Bank, which has let some customers cash in their credit-card points for carbon offsets in the past. The problem, according to Chad Doza, Commerce’s senior vice president of consumer credit cards, was getting people to do that. “We saw some struggles in that area with the recession as people were not willing to redeem their points for carbon credits,” he said.

The new card does it automatically. Cardholders also get a personal carbon homepage that tracks carbon offsets generated by use of the card and lets users compare that to their carbon footprint.

Sustain:Green buys carbon offsets generated by Nike, which in 2006 voluntarily stopped using sulfur hexafluoride in the manufacture of its shoes. That prevented millions of pounds of the potent greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere, and Nike earned carbon offset credits that were verified and listed by the non-profit American Carbon Registry. Sales of the Nike offsets finance the Mata no Peito project, which aims to reforest swaths of Brazil. Eventually the forests will generate their own offsets that can be sold to pay for other projects to reduce carbon pollution.

While the current versions of the Sustain:Green cards (there’s also a prepaid card available) are designed for either home composting or disposal in a landfill to biodegrade into water and oxygen, there’s no word on how the company will handle the somewhat less eco-friendly components once the cards shift to EMV.

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