Mastercard announced it is accelerating efforts to remove first–use, PVC plastics from payment cards on its network by 2028. This initiative further reinforces the company’s sustainability commitments and scales the accessibility of more sustainable card offerings for consumers seeking a way to reduce the environmental impact of their wallets.
In a first move for a payment network, from January 1, 2028, all newly–produced Mastercard plastic payment cards will be made from more sustainable materials — including recycled or bio-sourced plastics such as rPVC, rPET, or PLA – and approved through a certification program. The company will support its global issuing partners through the transition away from virgin PVC.
“The world has a plastic problem. Solving it will be a whole-of-society task, yet efforts are often taken in isolation or without coordination,” said Sandeep Malhotra, executive vice president, Products & Innovation, Asia Pacific, Mastercard. With these sustainable cards effort, Mastercard is bringing its global network of banks, financial institutions, and consumers — who collectively hold more than 3 billion Mastercard cards — together to build a greener payments sector through collaboration and partnership.”
Mastercard launched its Sustainable Card Program in 2018. Since then, over 330 issuers across 80 countries have voluntarily signed up, including 90 issuers in 15 markets across the Asia Pacific region. Since then, Mastercard has been working in partnership with major card manufacturers to transition more than 168 million cards across its network, including 31 million in the Asia Pacific region, to recycled and bio-based materials. The recent announcement accelerates these efforts, while complementing the company’s work to deliver digital-first card programs that fully eliminate the need for a physical card.
The rule change will also see all newly made cards certified by Mastercard to assess their composition and sustainability claims; this certification will then be validated by an independent third-party auditor. Once a card has been validated, it can be imprinted with a Card Eco Certification mark.
“Here in the Asia Pacific region, Mastercard’s issuer partners have been very receptive to this initiative, with 90 customers already opting into the sustainable cards program across Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and many other markets. This means their cardholders can proudly carry their card with the knowledge that it is made from sustainable forms of plastic. This holistic network connectivity is what makes this effort different and more effective,” added Malhotra.
In 2018, through Mastercard’s Digital Security Lab, the company launched the Greener Payments Partnership with card manufacturers Gemalto, Giesecke+Devrient, and IDEMIA to reduce the use of first-use PVC plastic in card manufacturing. It launched the Mastercard Card Eco-Certification (“CEC”) scheme in 2021.
“Mastercard is committed to advancing climate action and reducing waste by driving our business toward net zero emissions and leveraging our network and scale to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, regenerative economy,” said Ellen Jackowski, chief sustainability officer for Mastercard.
Driving a more sustainable future
Mastercard established its sustainability efforts more than a decade ago with a focus on financial inclusion, data responsibility, and the environment. Through its network, it collaborates with partners to bring new environmental innovations and initiatives like sustainable cards to market.
In addition, Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition is working towards restoring 100 million trees globally by 2025. Here in the Asia Pacific region, more than 20 partners in Australia, Korea, the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Cambodia have joined the Coalition which is currently running 18 reforestation projects worldwide.
Mastercard also works with Swedish fintech Doconomy to develop the Mastercard Carbon Calculator. Available to all issuers globally for any Mastercard card, the easily integrated API helps consumers to understand the estimated carbon footprint of their purchases via their banking app. This pioneering ESG fintech solution was named the first-place winner of the Singapore Fintech Festival Global FinTech Award 2022, presented by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in November last year.
Taylan Turan, group head of Retail Banking and Strategy, Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC, said: “Today’s announcement from Mastercard is a huge step for financial services. New sustainable materials, such as rPVC, offer our sector a clear way to accelerate its efforts to build a more sustainable future.
As part of our net zero strategy at HSBC, we’ve already introduced recycled plastic payment cards across 28 of our global markets and embedded the requirement to use sustainable materials for all debit, credit and commercial cards in our product governance; removing 85 tonnes of plastic that would have ended up in landfill. This level of impact couldn’t be achieved without strong partnership; I am so proud for us to be a part of a movement that is gathering momentum across the world.”