Mastercard Is Planning to Help You Recycle Credit Cards From Any Bank [wafact]

What to do with your expired credit cards is always a conundrum. Most likely they’ll end up sitting in a drawer somewhere with your other obsolete belongings, before eventually making their way to landfill. But what if you could recycle them efficiently, easily and securely, no matter what bank you’re with or where you are in the world?

That’s Mastercard’s hope, as the company announced the rollout 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 smelted so it can be turned into new products.

Credit cards might be small, but with around 25 billion cards currently in circulation, all that plastic can add up when the time comes to dispose of them. Every little bit that can be recycled helps. Currently about one garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped in 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 can negatively impact our ability to prevent climate-linked weather events and can damage our food production capabilities. Producing plastic also takes its toll on the environment by sending polluting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Banks and other financial institutions have a key role to play when it comes to fighting the climate crisis. In the five years since the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world’s 60 biggest banks have financed fossil fuels — the biggest contributing factor to the warming of our planet — to the tune of $3.8 trillion, according to a 2021 report from nonprofit Banking on Climate Chaos.

Climate experts agree that ending our reliance on fossil fuels is the most crucial step we can take to address climate change, and activists are leaning heavily on financial institutions to stop funding oil and gas projects, take their fair share of responsibility for the damage done, and conduct business more sustainably. Reducing plastic waste is a central part of Mastercard’s strategy to curtail the financial industry’s contribution to the human-caused climate crisis. The company also announced earlier this year that Mastercards must be made from sustainable materials by 2028.

Mastercard is hoping to make it simple for you to play your part in this process, by providing widespread recycling boxes, and the company is inviting every single bank in the world to become a partner in its program. The boxes contain a shredder that will tear up your card when it’s inserted, and they 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 swiftly follow. Mastercard says it has infrastructure in place to support card recycling in every region of the world.

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