Spanish retail bank CaixaBank has announced plans to stop using virgin plastic to make physical cards and instead start issuing cards made from recycled materials, starting this year.

With an aim to reduce environmental impact, the bank will now utilise recycled (R-PVC) or biodegradable (PLA) materials for its cards.

R-PVC consist of recycled materials sourced from construction industry waste, plastic bag recycling, as well as old cards, among others. On the other hand, PLA is a biodegradable material of biological origin that end the consumption of fossil resources.

As per technical data, R-PVC card consumes 45% less water and emits 15% less carbon dioxide during manufacturing than a plastic card.

The new sustainable cards have a guaranteed lifespan of a minimum of five years, noted the bank.

This year, 85% of the cards issued by the bank will leverage recycled and biodegradable components.

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At the same time, the bank is making changes to printing techniques used for the customer’s name and card details to reduce its carbon footprint.

It has replaced ink printing with laser technology, which produces less waste and improves the lifespan of the card.

It has also improved the internal recycling circuit for expired cards. The bank also activates a process through which the material in an expired card can be recycled and repurposed.

As a first step, Caixabank launched gift cards made from a biodegradable material in 2019. Last year, the bank introduced its recycled Visa & Pay card, the first card made from 100% recycled materials (R-PVC).

The bank said in a statement: “CaixaBank is committed to advocating for sustainability beyond its legal obligations and has made the environmental component a key part of its business activity. As a result, CaixaBank is a signatory of the Equator Principles and also includes environmental impact in its risk management framework. Similarly, the financial institution is committed to the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement.

“In terms of environmental impact management, CaixaBank has a specific 2019-2021 Environmental Management Plan that includes, among others, energy efficiency, consumption reduction measures, and extending its environmental commitment to the value chain.”

The bank is said to have lowered its emissions by 85% since 2009.