Debt in, plastic out: Mastercard’s future cards will use sustainable materials

  • Mastercard will require card manufacturers to certify that they use sustainable materials in their cards.
  • The payments firm wants to do away with first–use, PVC plastics.

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Debt in, plastic out: Mastercard’s future cards will use sustainable materials

Mastercard will require all banks issuing one of its payment cards to use sustainable materials.

The card company wants to do away with first–use, PVC plastics, according to a statement it made last week. From January 1, 2028, Mastercard plastic payment cards will be made from more sustainable materials – including recycled or bio-sourced plastics such as rPVC, rPET, or PLA.  

The firm is setting up a certification program to approve materials, a first for a payment network. The certification program will asses card manufacturers' composition and sustainability claims, which will then be validated by an independent third-party auditor. Once a card has been validated, it can be imprinted with a Card Eco Certification mark. 

an image showing the different physical layers and materials that compose a payment card
Source: Mastercard

For its part, Mastercard has been moving in this direction. It launched its Sustainable Card Program in 2018. 330 issuers across 80 countries have signed up, working with card manufacturers to transition more than 168 million cards across its network to recycled and bio-based materials.

“As our customers respond to increased consumer desire to make more eco-friendly choices, we are making a firm commitment to reducing our environmental footprint – for the benefit of people, planet and inclusive growth,” said Ajay Bhalla, President of Cyber and Intelligence at Mastercard.

The industry as a whole is moving in this direction. Starting this year, Bank of America (54 million cards issued annually) said it would switch all cards to recycled plastic while Citi is starting to convert corporate cards, beginning in EMEA.

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