The real cost of all those plastic cards and what it means for all of us.

As we move forward towards a more eco-friendly future, we are all looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. While this is a great area of focus, the reality is that the majority of damage is being done by businesses, not just individuals. Banks are known for their high carbon footprints, and the cards in your wallet play a role in it. In this article, we will explain the true impact of plastic debit and credit cards, and what it means for our future.

Breaking Down The Carbon Footprint of These Cards

When you hold a debit card in your hand, it is fairly easy to see that it is made using plastic. Though the actual breakdown of each card and its materials will vary from one manufacturer to the next, the reality is that plastic is plastic. Simply by existing, debit and credit cards pose an environmental threat on a regular basis—but it isn’t all that simple.

You might look at your credit card and think that it can’t be that much plastic, and you would be correct. However, when you consider the potential billions of bank accounts, the amount of plastic grows. Many families even have multiple cards for the same account, growing the number further. Then, we have to consider the fact that these cards are only good for a short period of time. Each cardholder will go through multiple cards for each account throughout their lifetime. On average, most cards expire every two to three years. This means even a person with one account can have more than twenty cards in their lifetime. When we factor in how frequently cards are lost or replaced after being stolen, the number only grows.

It is easy to see how the amount of plastic used for cardholders can grow at an incredibly high rate. The reality is that these cards can use quite a bit of plastic. Now, with modern changes, cards are influencing their carbon footprint with advancing chips and technologies designed to keep them secure, potentially adding more plastic. The worst part is that this isn’t the only environmental cost for cards. We must also consider the machines used to make them, the impact of shipping them, and the additional mail that is often associated with them.

How The Impact Has Changed With Time

Even seven years ago, debit and credit cards were largely considered a green option. In fact, many people promoted using cards as a way to go green—and at the time, they might have been right. The reality is that the times have changed. In an age where we are all able to do our shopping online through virtual platforms and can easily check out at the local grocery store with Apple Pay or Google Pay, cards are no longer the green option.

Previously, switching to card use might have been a great way to benefit the environment. Now, with advancing technologies, we have an even better opportunity to benefit the environment that much more. While recycling your cards might be a great first step if it is an option, the fact is that we just don’t need these cards anymore. Whether you recycle them or not, there is a lasting impact. Now, the technology in place enables us to take everything into a virtual space—and it is actually safer too! While some of us might leave our wallets behind, most of us are never more than a few feet from our phones.

What The Change Looks Like

The nature of human evolution is really built upon the advancement of our tools. Plastic cards gave us the ability to stop carrying a wallet full of cash. This was a really great change at the time. However, with the technologies that are now available, we can take this one step further. Digital payment methods are commonly used by people around the world. Currently, it is estimated that 6.1 billion people will use these payments by 2023.

When Apple Pay first rolled out in 2014, there were a lot of skeptics. By 2019, Apple Pay had a 51% adoption and hundreds of millions of regular users. People all around the world use these mobile payment methods because they are convenient and easy to manage. They are integrated into apps, available on websites, and available when you are spending in-person too.

Even those who don’t use Apple Pay or Google Pay yet surely know how to shop online with a card. It is easy to type in card information, which makes virtual debit and credit cards a great option for those who don’t want to use mobile payment methods yet.

Every time there is a significant change in a daily process, there is some resistance. Many people refused cards because they didn’t trust banks. Now, some people refuse to use mobile payment methods because they don’t trust technology. Regardless, these changes continue to be made—and they will only become more common with time.

The Future We Deserve

With the incredible technologies that are available, there really is no longer a need for plastic cards. The potential to influence the environment for the better by reducing the impact of these plastic cards, as well as associated factors, has the potential to reduce our carbon footprint significantly. Entire tons of CO2 can be reduced, supporting our environment that much further. The reality is that digital payment methods are the future and they are not going anywhere. Don’t be the person who clings to your plastic cards. Embrace this eco-friendly alternative instead.


No one wants to get left behind on a trend, so don’t be the person fumbling with a plastic card at checkout. The future is digital, which means that we should all be making this change as soon as possible. At Astat, we pride ourselves on never manufacturing plastic cards. We are a digital company and we allow our customers to reduce their carbon impact using this simple change. Plastic is a thing of the past, so join us in this new eco-friendly digital revolution. The time is now!