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Mastercard to Recycle Cards, Reduce Plastic Waste

MasterCard Inc. credit and debit cards are arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

BNR – Mastercard announced on Wednesday a global operation to recycle credit and debit cards. The idea is part of a larger strategy to divert billions of cards now in use from going to waste.

In eight stores in the United Kingdom, Mastercard collaborated with British lender HSBC Holdings Plc. The business stated that banks from across the globe will be able to participate in the initiative and assist develop economies of scale. Some of these banks have also established local projects.

“We’re inviting all card issuers… to partner with us,” stated Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligence at Mastercard Inc. “no matter what region they are in, and offer card recycling to their customers.”

Mastercard Shredding Equipment

Mastercard will equip HSBC with shredder equipment capable of handling 10,000 cards under the terms of the agreement. This equates to 50 kg (110 lb) of plastic. The machine will be relocated to a plastic recycling facility once its storage is full.

The plan’s financial information was not released. The trial initiative will continue for six months at first. Users will be able to recycle any plastic card, including those from competitors.

“This recycling pilot will provide us with some very important insight and will inform our longer-term plans,” said Jose Carvalho, head of wealth and personal banking at HSBC UK.

Mastercard now has over 3.1 billion cards in use. The sector is estimated to create roughly 600 million cards annually. Also, each card is good for about five years.

According to the Nilson Report, which analyses the sector, the overall cards in use in 2022 will be approximately 26 billion. Furthermore, it predicts that the figure will climb to 28.4 billion by 2027.

Environmental Impact: Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution has become one of the world’s most serious environmental issues. Plastic garbage is either buried or pollutes rivers and seas. Additionally, Plastic manufacturing is a major source of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.


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