The use of sustainable materials in payment cards is generating a lot of industry buzz. With roughly six billion plastic cards manufactured each year, the use of more eco-friendly materials like recovered ocean-bound plastic in card construction can significantly help address the issue of plastic waste entering our oceans.

According to a CPI Card Group Consumer Insights Study, conducted by an independent research firm, 83 percent of cardholders find the idea of a card made with recovered ocean plastic appealing1, and 58 percent would switch to a different issuer if they were to offer a recovered ocean plastic card with the same features and benefits.

But what does “recovered” actually mean?

The term “recovered” refers to waste materials collected from the environment and repurposed or “upcycled” for use in a different form, such as a used plastic milk jug that is converted into material for constructing playground equipment, glass melted into beads, or aluminum melted to create jewelry.

This contrasts with the term “recycled,” which refers to plastic or other discarded material that is reused in its same original form (e.g., reusable plastic or glass milk containers that are disinfected and relabeled).

According to CPI, recovered ocean-bound plastic is defined as plastic waste collected from land areas where the plastic would otherwise be highly likely to enter the ocean. It is typically recovered within 50 kilometers of a seashore, or near streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. CPI considers recovered ocean-bound plastic to be a subset of recovered ocean plastic, which also includes plastic debris that is collected directly from the ocean.

Scientists estimate between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic refuse enters the oceans annually, much of it in the form of single-use plastic.

In fact, if nothing changes, the ocean is expected to contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastic than fish (by weight).  Ocean plastics threaten the delicate coral reef ecosystem, increasing the likelihood of devastating coral disease by a factor of 20. This is critical, as coral reefs feature an astounding array of biodiversity. Although coral reefs occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor, they shelter more than a quarter of all marine life.

To help combat the ocean plastic waste challenge, CPI has introduced Second Wave® payment cards with a core made with recovered ocean-bound plastic.  These EMVCo compliant and dual interface capable payment cards can address issuers’ sustainability commitments, and align with consumers’ desire for more eco-friendly payment options.

If your financial institution is ready to consider a recovered ocean-bound plastic payment card program or other environmentally-conscious payment initiatives, click here to learn more about Second Wave®.

1 CPI Card Group. “Consumer Insights Study,” conducted by an independent research firm, Schor Insights and Strategy, among 529 debit and credit card users between 18 and 65 years of age, November 1-2, 2018

Jack Jania

Written by: Jack Jania, VP of Product Management and Innovation for Secure Cards at CPI Card Group.