According to new research commissioned by CPI Card Group and produced by Aite Group, 80% of card issuers surveyed believe that cardholders are more environmentally conscious today than they were just five years ago. This belief is supported by sales of earth-friendly products having grown over five times faster than traditional products. Sustainability-marketed products accounted for 16.6 percent of market share across thirty-six consumer packaged good product categories in 2019, up from 14.3 percent in 2013.

Surprisingly, the desire for more eco-focused products transcends the generational divide. Millennials are not the only generation passionate about environmental causes. A Nielsen study found that 72% of baby boomers also feel that companies should implement programs to improve the environment.

Financial Institutions Are Implementing or Expanding Sustainability Strategies

Sustainability strategies are becoming necessary in the payments industry.  Leading financial institutions are investing in sustainability strategies, employing dedicated executives to guide and monitor the process, and are promoting environmental sustainability on their websites as they explore ways to incorporate new practices into their operations and product offerings.   As financial institutions look to implement or expand sustainability programs to meet consumer demand, innovative solutions are emerging in the market.  Issuers can now consider payment cards made with more sustainable materials such as upcycled plastic, either recovered ocean-bound plastic or post-industrial plastic.  More environmentally friendly options are also found in card carriers and retail packaging with recycled papers.

Card and sustainability executives are working more closely together to expand or implement sustainability strategies. According to Aite’s research, card executives surveyed stated they have begun to communicate with those in charge of their institution’s sustainability team.

Card executives can further collaborate with colleagues in sustainability, helping them understand the institution’s financial products and operations to identify potential opportunities. For instance, through an understanding of the materials used in card production and packaging, the sustainability group may be able to reduce the amount of paper materials used for collateral, inserts and carriers, joined with an eco-friendlier card product that reduces first use plastic.

Sustainable Card Options are Available Now

The market is wide open in the sustainable space, and with growing demand, the introduction of viable, eco-focused payment cards, not only drives cardholders (and issuers) awareness of doing something good for the planet, it may also offer issuers a compelling differentiator. This is the perfect opportunity to convey your company’s environmental objectives with eye-catching design and imagery, while promoting messaging that resonates with today’s cardholders.

As the demand for eco-focused products rises, and the pressure to create sustainability strategies increases, financial institutions may be faced with decisions on what environmentally focused card options align with their sustainability initiatives. Communicating with sustainability executives can provide insight on the best options.  Recovered ocean-bound plastic and high upcycled content cards are excellent options to reduce first-use plastic in the payment card industry. Depending on design, issuers can reach up to 98% upcycled plastic content in cards made with post-industrial plastic.

To learn more about CPI’s upcycled plastic card options, click here.

Jack Jania

Written by:

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