What's the Carbon Footprint of your Credit Card?

Credit cards are convenient, compact and easily replaceable, saving us the headaches of carrying around loads of cash. But what is the carbon footprint of our easily disposable credit cards?

MasterCard, to its credit, commissioned TruCert Ltd., a British-based consulting firm, to map the carbon footprint of credit cards.

The findings, as reported by CreditCards.com, reveal that those innocent looking plastic credit cards do have an impact. One kilogram of PVC has a carbon footprint of approximately 4.1 kilograms of CO2. With the average card weighing 5.07 grams, the CO2 footprint of a card is about 21 grams, including the energy and water consumed in production.

That’s equivalent to the CO2 equivalent of five bank checks, 13 dollar bills, or the gas to drive a Hummer 150 feet. However, a credit card’s carbon footprint continues, when you consider that the envelope and paper insert that accompanies your card adds 10-15 grams of CO2, or roughly 50 percent more to the card's carbon footprint.

"If you add transportation into the mix, you're talking some pretty significant numbers," said Al Vrancart, ICMA co-founder and industry adviser to the Green Task Force. "In a worst-case scenario, the card manufacturer ordered the PVC from China, it was flown to their plant in NewJersey, then they sent it out to FDR (First Data Resources) in Omaha to be personalized, then it went to the issuing bank to be mailed out. It's pretty significant."

To learn more about the carbon footprint of credit cards, read here.

With the EDGE Card, we are looking to help cut the waste of disposable PVC credit cards by providing one single card that stores the payment information for multiple cards. While the digital EDGE Card will certainly have a carbon footprint, over time we hope it will overcome the footprint of multiple disposable payment cards.