Ditch plastic bank cards for good

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OpinionAlternative loansDigital bankSavings and investment

Plastic is useless and a waste for bank cards. Greener solutions are available. The time to cut the habit is now.

Image source: Pexels

Go look in your wallet. It’s full of bits of plastic that you barely use. Am I right?

Inevitably, much of this plastic ends up in the ground or the sea and eventually into the human food chain. Sorry to tell you but you’re probably eating a credit card plastic value every week.

With the increase in the number of banking and similar options, we have more cards than ever and yet we are increasingly using digital payment methods.

It’s time for banks, neobanks and other fintechs to abandon this terribly useless and blatantly harmful habit for the environment.

Although the figures are difficult to calculate precisely, data from 2018 indicates that there are around 164 million plastic debit, credit and prepaid cards in the UK alone.

The amount of plastic used each year to produce bank cards is equivalent to the weight of 80 Boeing 747s, according to Thales, with around six billion individual cards created.

Despite the digital boom in payments, cards are still needed. And will be for years to come. The cards themselves are unlikely to become useless, or at least not for a long time.

People love maps. They give merchants certainty and confidence and prove to be very effective as marketing tools for banks and fintechs. But there is a problem with increasingly bloated wallets and the plastic pollution they create as we become users of more banks and fintechs for different purposes.

Although companies like Curve have provided an effective solution, as an aggregator, of having one physical card and many virtual cards, this is not yet common.

So what is the solution ? Recycling? Reduce the number of cards? Both have their place, but some fintechs go further and create cards with a much lower environmental impact.

GoHenry, as AltFi exclusively revealed earlier this month, will be getting rid of all its plastic bank cards for good this summer, in favor of nifty biodegradable cards made from compostable polylactic acid.

GoHenry made its first leap into the world of non-plastic cards with the launch of an 82% non-petroleum-derived bio-based polymer designed to break down in six months in May 2020.

Triodos was the first bank to take the leap to sustainable bank cards in 2018. But many banks, including challenger fintechs, can be too cavalier with their use of plastic.

Since 2019, just 214 banks have subscribed to the Principles for a responsible bankan initiative to raise awareness in the banking community of the societal impact of using plastic, among other sustainability issues.

Using the rollout of new maps as a short-term marketing tool rather than considering the inevitable journey of cutting maps with a pair of kitchen scissors until their eventual trip to the landfill or the ocean is simply disconnected from emerging consumer preferences.

Clearly these things take time but it’s time for everyone to catch up.

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