updated 2:11 PM CET, Oct 31, 2023

Earth Day 2022: Citi unveils recycled plastic for its corporate cards

Citi, the New York-based, globally-focused banking group, has announced that it is introducing recycled PVC (a type of plastic) into its corporate credit cards.

The banking group announced the more environmentally-friendly cards hours before the world prepared to mark Earth Day, which has been held every April 22 since 1970. Earth Day is viewed as a time when the world takes a moment to acknowledge the need to remember the importance of maintaining the planet's natural infrastructure by prioritizing environmentally-friendly ways of living, and eliminating those that destroy the natural environment. 

Citi has previously announced that it has set a goal of "achieving net zero emissions associating with its financing by 2050," and net zero emissions for operations by 2030.

"With these goals in mind, the focus is on the environmental impact of our processes, and how we can provide sustainable products and solutions," Citi said in its April 21 statement announcing the new recycled PVC (rPVC) cards.

The banking group explained that it's introducing the new cards "globally in a phased manner" rather than replacing cards that have not yet expired, in order to ensure "that no unnecessary wastage occurs by replacing original cards that have not yet expired." For this reason, the new recycled PVC corporate cards are to begin being rolled out in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, before being distrbuted globally. 

What's more, it added, the new cards are to be "produced from recycled industrial plastic material that typically comes from industries such as printing and packaging.

"The cards will go through an open loop recycling process, meaning old products are transformed into new products – delivering a significant benefit in the reduction of industrial plastic waste.

"Every rPVC card will be made with 85% recycled industrial waste per finished card, and represents a reduction in CO2 emissions during the card-manufacturing process, delivering a reduction of 36% CO2 emissions in comparison to a standard PVC card." 

'Carbon footprint'

Mastercard sustainable badge Trudy Curtis, EMEA Head of Commercial Cards at Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions, said that because "reducing our carbon footprint" is a component of the banking group's overall environmental goals, using rPVC for its corporate cards "is just one of the sustainable initiatives helping us to achieve this." 

She added: "As we move further towards digital, we are pleased that where we require physical cards, the use of rPVC provides a more environmentally-friendly alternative. As a dual network issuer, we are able to offer rPVC across both Mastercard and Visa.”

he new Mastercard Citi cards will feature the so-called "Mastercard Sustainable Card Badge," pictured left, which identifies cards that are made more sustainably than conventionally-made cards.  

Mastercard President of Cyber & Intelligence Ajay Bhalla said his company is inviting "more organizations to join us, as we collectively use our power for good to address these pressing environmental challenges.” Being more eco-friendly, he noted, is "better for business" as well as better for the environment.

One of the four largest banks in the U.S., Citi has approximately 200 million customer accounts, and currently does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. It provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit services, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

In recent years it has been downsizing its international consumer banking operations, announcing last April that it would be exiting this area in 13 markets, as part of a shift to other areas, such as high-net-worth banking and wealth management and institutional banking.