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Plastic pollution: Mastercard unveils global plan to recycle credit cards

Plastic pollution: Mastercard unveils global plan to recycle credit cards
June 22
03:21 2023

Mastercard is set to commence the recycling of plastic credit and debit cards globally. 

Launching the project on Wednesday, the organisation said it hopes to prevent billions of cards in circulation from ending in landfills.

According to Reuters, Mastercard entered into an initial partnership with HSBC Holdings Plc in eight branches in the UK.

The company said it will, through the project, provide shredding machines to HSBC, each of which is capable of holding 10,000 cards, equivalent to 50kg of plastic. 


The organisation said the shredding machine, once full, will be transferred to a plastic recycling facility.

Mastercard called on banks across the world to join the programme to help build economies of scale as well as offer recycling to their customers.

Ajay Bhalla, president of cyber and intelligence at Mastercard Inc, said: “We are inviting all card issuers around the world to partner with us, no matter what region they are in, and offer card recycling to their customers.”


The pilot project, which will run for an initial six months, will allow customers to recycle any plastic card.

The organisation said it currently has around 3.1 billion cards in circulation. It estimates that around 600 million cards — each with a lifespan of around five years — are produced by the industry each year. 

Plastics contribute to the global climate crisis. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that in 2019 alone, plastics generated 1.8 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – 3.4 percent of the global total.

Annually, more than 430 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). About 280 million tonnes of short-lived plastic products become waste.


“Overall, 46 percent of plastic waste is landfilled, while 22 percent is mismanaged and becomes litter. Unlike other materials, plastic does not biodegrade. This pollution chokes marine wildlife, damages soil and poisons groundwater, and can cause serious health impacts,” UNEP said.

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