Innovations and Payment Systems

AmEx to roll out credit card made from ocean plastic


Credit cards aren’t known for being environmentally friendly, but a new card from American Express may change that

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Plastic credit cards are not known for being environmentally friendly, but American Express is aiming to change that.

The company is launching its first-ever credit card made primarily from plastic debris recovered from the ocean. American Express said in a June 7 news release it expects to make the card – which is currently a prototype – publicly available within the next 12 months, after a period of testing and refinement.

“We are currently undergoing research to identify the optimal sustainable materials to use in larger-scale card production,” AmEx spokeswoman Charlotte Fuller said in an e-mail. “This research and testing is something we do with every new card product – things like testing the card durability and ensuring the card works at all merchant terminals.”

Fuller did not provide details on the new card’s branding, or what kinds of rewards or perks it might offer. She said American Express would continue to issue cards made of titanium and stainless steel, which are recyclable. But AmEx cards made purely of non-recovered plastic are evidently on the way out.

“We are committed to reducing the use of virgin plastic in our card production over time, and ocean plastic is just one of many sustainable, recycled materials that can be leveraged to do so,” Fuller said.

See related: ‘Green’ your spending with eco-friendly cards

Effort to increase cards’ recyclability

Plastic credit cards are difficult to recycle and they’re typically made from environmentally hazardous materials. Most bank cards are composed of PVC, a known carcinogen that can foul the air when burned and pollute groundwater when it sits in a landfill. More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, according to the nonprofit environmental group Plastic Oceans.

The new card is part of an effort by AmEx to reduce single-use plastic in its global operations. The company also said it would rid its Centurion airport lounges of one-time-use plastic straws and coffee stirrers within 30 days, and all virgin plastic by the end of 2018.

Additionally, the card issuer is planning to increase recycling rates at its global operations and achieve zero-waste certification at its New York City headquarters by 2025.

AmEx is partnering with environmental organization Parley to roll out the marine plastic card and raise consumers’ awareness of ocean conservation.


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