Bank cards want to be more “eco-responsible”

Who remembers that in 2014, Crédit Agricole was experimenting with corn starch-based bank cards? The lack of robustness of this bioplastic had however got the better of the project, and it took seven years for another large French banking network, Crédit Mutuel, to communicate again on a so-called “eco-responsible” card by placarding on the stops. of bus an advertisement for a strange card, almost completely white.

This time 86% of the support is recycled plastic. And the sobriety of the visual “Allows an 87.5% ink reduction”, says the bank, who hears “Eventually switch all its production, 4 million cards per year”.

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The context is no longer the same as in 2014, environmental awareness has accelerated and card manufacturers, such as Idemia and Thales, now display catalogs supplied with “eco-responsible” products (for the support material, inks, etc.) meeting the reliability criteria of payment networks.

Recycled PVC is popular

Several large banks have therefore followed Crédit Mutuel’s footsteps or are preparing to do so. Societe Generale thus launched a recycled PVC test in May on one of its “collection” cards and intends to gradually extend it to other cards. Boursorama’s Welcome cards have also been made from recycled PVC since the summer. If other conversions to recycled PVC are announced for the first half of 2022, in particular at HSBC and BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole is considering, “Without date”, a new generation of corn starch or “ocean plastic” cards.

“There is considerable enthusiasm from the banks”, notes Amélie Tournant, head of banking services and payment strategy at Thales, which has delivered around 30 million eco-responsible cards since 2019.

This manufacturer, a pioneer in corn starch cards in 2014, explains that he has since designed “A bio-based card made up of 84% natural materials”, more robust and resistant to time than the old version. And has also developed cards in recycled PVC and plastic recovered on beaches and in the waters.

After the “wooden” check, the cherry tree card

While several large banks are converting to “eco-responsible” cards, the alternative was imposed from the outset for OnlyOne, Helios or Green-Got, these start-ups that promise current accounts promoting ecological transition. OnlyOne (launched in April) has thus opted for recycled PVC, while Helios (in February) and Green-Got (launch in progress) offer an astonishing material: wood. “It’s cherry from a sustainably managed forest in the Austrian Alps. A strip of recycled plastic is still present in the card, it is on it that the chip clings ”, Green-Got details.

“While PVC cards consume a lot of polluting inks, wooden ones have few prints. And the production site in Austria uses energy from its photovoltaic system ”, says Helios. Cards to keep in your pocket before starting the washing machine, wood and water don’t mix.

At Idemia, the focus has been on recycled PVC. “It is part of a circular economy, we reuse an existing material rather than creating a new one”, explains Amanda Gourbault, executive vice-president for activities related to financial institutions. The company, which has recently offered cards with 100% recycled plastic backing, aims to produce more than 50 million recycled PVC cards by 2021 and estimates that by 2022, 20% of the bank cards it receives. product will be in this material. “The progression is dazzling”, rejoices Ms. Gourbault.

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