As consumers increasingly seek to avoid the use of single-use plastics, they have also become increasingly vocal in demanding that companies do more to address their impact on the planet.
One company that is listening is Mastercard. Its sustainable commitments already include, for example, a partnership with the Swedish fintech startup Doconomy, which offers tools to finance solutions to solve the climate crisis and drive behavioural change; membership of RE100, furthering its commitment to renewable energy; and the launch of the Priceless Planet Coalition, a platform to unite corporate sustainability efforts and make meaningful investments to preserve the environment.
At the same time, the company has been working with global industry players to develop a sustainable card program for all card issuers globally, developing a directory of sustainable card offerings that are now available to consumers in over a dozen countries around the globe. Already, over 60 financial institutions have issued cards with approved materials made from recyclable, bio-sourced, chlorine-free, degradable and ocean plastics.
These institutions include Crédit Agricole and Mauritius Commercial Bank, as well as Santander, which will issue cards shortly. 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.
This initiative is a new milestone in a multi-year effort that will lead to the launch of Mastercard’s global certification scheme for approved sustainable cards.
It builds on the Greener Payments Partnership (GPP) formed by Mastercard and card manufacturers Gemalto, Giesecke+Devrient and IDEMIA in 2018 to establish environmental best practices and reduce first-use PVC plastic in card manufacturing. Six billion payments cards are produced each year, typically from PVC. These cards are replaced on average every three to four years, with discarded cards going to landfills across the world.
“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 the UK, Mastercard’s Global DigiSec Lab has invested in technology that analyses the material makeup of a card to assess environmental claims on behalf of the industry, so that customers can be confident that any Mastercard they are issuing from a sustainable material has been evaluated and independently verified. The Lab is also investing in academic research related to environmentally friendly ways to recycle existing plastic cards.
As Marco Briata, head of Digital & Payments - Crédit Agricole Italia, said: “We know our customers are looking for more sustainable products and looking for ways to effect positive change in the world. This approach has enabled us to not only deliver on a consumer need but also offer a product that’s in line with our corporate sustainability values.”
The MCB bank in Mauritius said it is converting its cards portfolio to polylactic acid (PLA), which will reduce traditional PVC use by more than 80%.
“In addition, every time that a customer uses our Mastercard debit card, we make a contribution to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to save threatened Mauritian species through the restoration of entire ecosystems,” said Stephanie Ng Tseung, head of Cards at MCB.