It’s hard to be eco-friendly when there’s so much plastic. According to the Nilson Report there are more than 20billion credit, debit and prepaid cards in circulation, worldwide.
That’s a lot of plastic. And the biggest drawback is that it is incredibly hard to recycle – often ending up tossed in rubbish dumps.
PVC disposed of this way can poison ground water, or worse, release toxic dioxins into the air during landfill fires.
Even if your council can recycle cards, the problem is that they often need to be left whole. But who in their right mind would bin a credit card without cutting it up?
Businesses are joining the fight to reduce our dependence on single-use plastic. The online supermarket Ocado is one of those taking a lead.
It has promised to remove all non-recyclable PVC and polystyrene from its own-label products by Christmas. And ditch all its black plastic by Spring next year.
Ocado’s head of corporate responsibility, Suzanne Westlake, said: “We’re on a mission to become the UK’s most environmentally-friendly supermarket.”
As the goods we buy become ever more eco-friendly, it is surely time to think hard about the green credentials of the way we pay.
According to creditcards.com, manufacturing the plastic in your pocket releases the equivalent of 21,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
And that’s before shipping. Paper packed along with the envelope for your new card, produces half as much again of the greenhouse gas.
It’s surely time to look at alternatives. And the Royal Mint are even developing credit cards made of real gold for Britain’s mega rich.
The block of 18-carat gold, costing £3,000, will have the owner’s signature engraved on the back.
That might sound a lot of money…but what environmental price are we prepared to pay for the plastic cards in our wallet?