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HSBC to introduce recycled plastic payment cards

HSBC announced the rollout of sustainable payment cards made from 85% recycled plastic in Sri Lanka.

The new cards, with a vertical design, will be initially issued to HSBC’s Premier customers in April and subsequently to all other credit/debit card customers, later this year.

The rollout is part of a new programme launched by the bank to introduce sustainable payment cards across all its global locations. By the end of 2026 HSBC will eliminate single-use PVC plastic, in favour of recycled PVC plastic (rPVC).

The programme - which includes HSBC’s debit, credit and commercial cards - is part of the bank’s strategy to reduce its carbon emissions and achieve net zero in its operations and supply chain by 2030 or sooner.

Working with global cards manufacturer IDEMIA, the bank will introduce new cards gradually across its locations.

Rollout started in Malaysia in January 2021, and will continue in Sri Lanka this month; followed by the UK this summer.

It will then extend across further countries and markets by the end of 2021, including Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Macau, Mexico, Singapore, UAE and US.

Based on the current volume of cards issued by HSBC globally per year (23m), the move to rPVC will reduce CO2 emissions by 161 tonnes a year. Each card will also reduce plastic waste - 73 tonnes per year, that’s the weight of over 40 cars.

Nadeesha Senaratne, Country Head of Wealth & Personal Banking, HSBC Sri Lanka said, “Climate change is real and is gaining momentum across the world. As the leading international bank in Sri Lanka, we are proud to take the lead in driving change by becoming the first in the local banking industry to issue recycled plastic payment cards. This move underpins our global ambition to become a net zero business. By evolving our payment cards to eliminate single-use plastic cards and transforming banking for our customers, we are actively taking responsibility together, to tackle climate change. We want our customers to feel that they are truly making a positive impact on the environment.”

Customers requiring new or replacement cards will be the first recipients. To preserve the life of their existing cards for as long as possible, recycled plastic cards will be issued as their old cards naturally expire.

The availability of rPVC cards will vary by location, as each country joins the program.

Global research conducted for HSBC by Mintel found a majority (77%) of consumers agree that ‘financial services firms have an important role to play in creating a more sustainable society’; when it comes to their appetite for payment cards made from sustainable materials, over two-thirds (67%) showed high levels of interest.

A separate global survey, conducted for IDEMIA by Dentsu Data Labs found that most people (92%) think their bank should actively contribute to preserving the planet; and a majority (87%) expect their banks to offer eco-friendly cards.

The move to rPVC underpins HSBC’s global ambition to build a thriving and resilient future, and is part of the bank’s transition to be a net zero business.

The switch is a first step in a gradual transition to issue cards made from sustainable materials, and HSBC will continue to evaluate other alternative materials too.

IDEMIA’s Executive VP Financial Institutions Amanda Gourbault said: “IDEMIA is proud to be a long term global partner of HSBC and to be supporting its sustainability goals with our GREENPAY solution - part of our portfolio of sustainable solutions for financial institutions. We fully share HSBC’s goals of sustainability - we believe bank cards shouldn’t cost the earth; and we look forward to working with HSBC as it migrates its card portfolio worldwide to rPVC. Manufactured from waste materials, rPVC cards significantly reduce plastic waste, which is one of the most pressing problems of our modern world. Migrating to recycled plastic also saves energy, limits oil consumption and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, to help mitigate global warming and reduce air pollution.”

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