Want to know more about carbon-neutral credit cards?
Then you're in the right place.
In this Q&A page, you'll discover answers to frequent questions about banking cards and their carbon footprints, including:
- What is a carbon footprint?
- What is the carbon footprint of a banking card?
- What does it mean to become "carbon neutral"?
- How do we get carbon neutrality?
We'll also detail our 3-step carbon offsetting process; carbon-neutral certification benefits, and carbon reduction projects.
In the past months, this process has helped several banks reach carbon neutrality for their banking cards.
So, if you want to go from a "carbon neutral" beginner to a pro, this Q&A is for you.
Let's dive right in.
What is a carbon footprint?
The Banking Sector sets progressively higher targets to shrink the carbon footprint of their activities.
In other words, banks and financial institutions are trying to measure, control and reduce the global amount of greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.
It's expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) and includes, of course, carbon dioxide and fluorinated gases, methane and nitrous oxide, in particular. They are known for trapping heat in the atmosphere, causing global warming.
What is the carbon footprint of a banking card?
Banks are implementing new strategies and approaches to favour energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The environmental impact of credit cards is also being measured as we battle with the hard truth of global warming.
Calculating the eco-impact of a PVC credit card (and its packaging) is easy as we manufacture and personalise over 2B smart cards and objects (from smart tokens to electronic passports).
A realistic assumption of a credit card's carbon footprint is about 150 CO2eq.
- 60g CO2 coming from the card body material
- 50g coming from manufacturing.
- 40g coming from others (transport, packaging…)
Not bad, after all, right?
It's the equivalent of a Volkswagen Polo 1,4 for a one-kilometre drive or less than 400 meters if you have a Ford Mustang 2020 Shelby GT500.
It's also about five plastic bags made with high-density polyethene.
In 2019, the global number of general-purpose credit, debit, and prepaid cards issued in the banking and payment segment was anticipated at more than 6 billion, according to the Nilson Report of October 2019.
Think about it.
We estimate payment cards to contribute in the range of 3,500,000,000*150g CO2eq, or a total of >500,000 tons.
So, imagine 30B plastic bags. This figure represents the number of plastic bags used by the population of the whole State of New York* in 16 months.
*According to ABC News, on 28 February 2020, NY State shoppers used about 23 billion single-use bags annually.
What does it mean to become "carbon neutral"?
As the climate emergency becomes more acute, so does the need for accountability. Many responsible banks are taking initiatives to slash their carbon footprints, and some are even targeting carbon neutrality for some of their activities, products and services.
What does it mean?
- Carbon neutrality is reached by calculating a carbon footprint of a service, product or activity and shrinking it to zero through a combination of internal optimisation and supporting external emission reduction projects.
- Offsetting means calculating emissions and buying equivalent "credits" from projects that remove the emissions of an equal amount of CO2eq.
In other words: Companies pay for the carbon they cannot remove.
These carbon offsetting projects help combat global climate change, often providing biodiversity, reforestation and broader social benefits.
And as payment cards have a significant environmental impact, Thales has been working with responsible banks for some years with a clear protocol to implement carbon neutrality.
This methodology gives banks and financial institutions a robust three-step carbon offsetting framework.
It sounds complicated, but it's not.
How do we get carbon neutrality?
Here is carbon offsetting in 3 steps:
#1 - Calculate your emissions
We identify with our client what data need collecting, support data collection and then calculate total emissions following a precise protocol.
#2 - Choose an offset project
After this initial step, our client needs to decide to move to carbon neutrality by achieving net-zero emissions for cards.
Thales then helps the Bank identify and support the external emissions reduction projects that fit best with the company's values and compensate the emissions to carbon neutrality.
#3 – Cards that meet their carbon-neutral goal obtain a logo to publicise their certification.
Carbon neutral cards and banks: a win-win
There is a twofold benefit here for the Banks.
- First, they can meet their emission reduction goals. This is good for the climate.
- Second, they deliver a strong signal to their customers. They are a responsible company taking climate change very seriously. The certification label, in particular, is more than a symbol. It's a visible sign that the company can use on cards, packaging and websites showing its dedication to reducing its carbon footprint.
Carbon offset projects: some recent examples
We have already supported several clients to fund credible carbon reduction initiatives with proven track records.
We ensure the carbon offsets bought create long-term sustainable results and are cost-effective.
Thales is supporting its customers through a range of carbon offset initiatives:
- Industrial Process Emissions reductions (USA)
- Water Filtration, Improved cookstoves (Guatemala)
- Wind Power (Chile)
- Wind Power (Turkey)
- Community Reforestation (East Africa)
- Kulera REDD+ Cookstoves (Malawi)
- Global Renewable Energy (China, India, Africa)
- Gas Distribution Leak reduction (Bangladesh)
Now it's your turn.
It's a journey that starts today.
With its eco-friendly cards and related services, Thales encourages Banks and issuers to take action towards carbon-neutral practices.
If you have a question on carbon neutrality and payment cards or a remark, we'll gladly answer.
Our experts can help you plan and deliver what matters.
We're looking forwards to hearing from you.