Around 160 million payment cards are made each year, and are replaced every three or four years, which makes for about 5.7 millions tons of plastic.
UK eco-startup Tred is a finance company that is fundraising to produce and offer debit cards made from recycled ocean plastic. The cards would also pair with an app to track the users carbon output based on their spendings.
Peter Kirby and Will Smith,Tred’s co-founders, have developed an app that converts pounds spent into kilograms of carbon emissions, helping users understand how some expenses impact the environment. The app shows the users graphics that reflect how their actions help or damage the planet. The app requires a monthly subscription, and each payment offsets their carbon production through a certified Scottish tree-planting initiative, and users with the least carbon footprint are rewarded by planting extra trees in their name.
Tred has been able to achieve and double their goal through crowdfunding, the total being £744,000 (€856,000), which is almost double their original target. The waiting list for those wanting to acquire the product has doubled in 2021.
Some big card companies, such as MasterCard are showing interest in going plastic-free. Most payment cards nowadays are made from PVC plastic, which is not biodegradable and only breaks into microplastic after decades. MasterCard is launching eco-friendly cards which will be made from biodegradable, recycled or reclaimed ocean plastic.
Over 60 financial institutions have partnered with MasterCard and Green Payments Partnership to offer sustainable cards to customers, including Santander, Crédit Agricole and DBS Bank. Additionally, Visa announced the Earthwise™ High Content Card, which will be made almost entirely with upcycled plastic.
Triodos Bank (Netherlands) has been using biodegradable cards since 2017. Their card is made from polylactic acid, a recyclable and biodegradable material which is produced from corn and plant leaves, instead of petroleum.