Mastercard Inc. is promoting the use of sustainable credit cards, helping issuers in more than a dozen countries offer cards made from recyclable, bio-sourced, chlorine-free, degradable and ocean-safe plastics.
The New York-based, multinational financial services (FI) company said the industry currently produces 6 billion cards a year made out of traditional PVC plastics. They are replaced every three to four years, and expired cards end up in the world’s landfills.
“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,” said Ajay Bhalla, president of Cyber & Intelligence at Mastercard, in a statement. “This way, everyone benefits, it’s better for the environment, it’s better for business and it meets evolving consumer needs.”
To promote greater use of environmentally conscious cards, the company is rolling out a new directory of sustainable materials and vendors so that banks can more easily offer ecofriendly versions. Mastercard said more than five dozen FIs, including Crédit Agricole and Mauritius Commercial Bank, have already issued cards with approved materials. Santander also plans to issue similar cards shortly.
The launch follows a Pew Research Center survey last fall that revealed two-thirds of U.S. adults said the government is not doing enough to reduce the effects of climate change or to protect air and water quality.
Green America, the Washington, D.C. nonprofit whose mission is to use the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a environmentally sustainable society, said there are other ways to save the planet. Its Green America Visa from TCM Bank supports the charity’s green-economy programs.
The Clean Water Card, a Visa card for Clean Water Action members and supporters, likewise supports clean water and healthy communities. And Amazon’s Watch Visa helps protect the rainforest. Watch works with communities to protect sensitive ecosystems in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
In a report last summer, Policy Genius noted there are a number of affinity credit cards that support the environment. Some credit cards provide a percentage of purchases to charity.
For example, Bank of America offers a large selection of such credit and debit cards, including rewards for Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. Typically, partner organizations receive donations of 0.08 percent of the purchase. They also receive a few dollars each time someone opens a new card account.
Still, Policy Genius said there aren’t many individual credit cards supporting environmental sustainability and recommends finding a financial institution that shares your values.
Mastercard said this latest effort builds on the Greener Payments Partnership formed by Mastercard and card manufacturers Gemalto, Giesecke+Devrient and IDEMIA two years ago to establish environmental best practices and reduce plastic in card manufacturing.
“We know our customers are looking for more sustainable products and looking for ways to effect positive change in the world,” said Marco Briata, Head of Digital & Payments at Crédit Agricole Italia, in a statement.
(This article has been updated to clarify that Mastercard is promoting the use of sustainable cards by issuers rather than "introducing" them itself.)