What to do with your expired credit cards is always a conundrum. They will most likely end up in a drawer somewhere with your other outdated items before eventually going to the landfill. But what if you could recycle them efficiently, easily and securely, no matter which bank you’re from or where you are in the world?
That’s Mastercard’s hope, as the company announced the launch of its global card recycling program on Wednesday. Mastercard wants to partner with banks to provide collection boxes where you can deposit your expired debit and credit cards – even if they’re not issued by Mastercard – where they’ll be shredded and sent for recycling. The material from your card, including the chip, will then be separated and melted down so it can be turned into new products.
Credit cards may be small, but with around 25 billion cards in circulation, all that plastic can add up when it’s time to throw away. Every bit that can be recycled helps. Currently, about a garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Plastic waste can harm biodiversity by damaging natural habitats and killing wildlife. In turn, this could negatively impact our ability to prevent climate-related weather events and could harm our ability to produce food. Plastic production also impacts the environment by sending polluting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Banks and other financial institutions play a key role when it comes to combating the climate crisis. In the five years since the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s 60 largest banks have financed fossil fuels — the biggest contributor to global warming — to the tune of $3.8 trillion, according to a 2021 report .of the non-profit organization Banking on Climate Chaos.
Climate experts agree that ending our dependence on fossil fuels is the most important step we can take to tackle climate change, and activists are counting heavily on financial institutions to stop funding oil and gas projects. to take their fair share of responsibility for the damage caused, and to conduct business more sustainably. Reducing plastic waste is a central part of Mastercard’s strategy to limit the financial industry’s contribution to the man-made climate crisis. The company also announced earlier this year that Mastercards must be made from sustainable materials by 2028.
Mastercard hopes to make it easy for you to play your part in this process by providing widespread recycling bins, and the company is inviting every bank in the world to become a partner in its program. The boxes contain a shredder that will shred your card when inserted and can hold up to 10,000 cards before they need to be emptied.
The first bank to sign up is HSBC in the UK, but banks in the US and elsewhere may quickly follow. Mastercard says it has the infrastructure to support card recycling in every region of the world.