HSBC Rolls Out Recycled Plastic Payment Cards

We’ve seen a widening range of ways that fintechs and financial services companies are responding to the global crisis of climate change. Finovate Best of Show winner Meniga, as just one example, teamed up with Iceland’s Islandsbanki earlier this year to launch its carbon footprint tracking, green banking solution, Carbon Insight. In March, we looked at 25 different fintech companies that were “going green” with initiatives that ranged from leveraging customer deposits to fund “climate-positive projects” to helping investors build portfolios of low carbon companies.

Today we learned that HSBC is commemorating this year’s Earth Day with news that it plans to eliminate single-use PVC plastic payment cards by the end of 2026. Instead, the bank will use recycled PVC plastic (rPVC), a shift already underway in markets like Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The new cards, part of HSBC’s goal of reducing its carbon emissions and reaching net zero in both operations and supply chain by 2030, are expected to reach the U.K. by summer, with markets in South Asia and North America – including the U.S. – getting the new cards by the end of the year.

“This is another step as we move towards a net zero business, to help the bank and our customers make a positive impact on the environment,” HSBC group head of retail banking products Richard Harvey said.

An issuer of 23 million cards a year, the transition to the rPVC-based cards is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 161 tons a year. The switch will also result in a significant reduction in plastic waste — by 73 tons a year.

Not all who heard HSBC’s Earth Day message were moved, unfortunately. A small group of climate change activists broke windows at the bank’s Canary Wharf headquarters as part of a protest against HSBC’s business with fossil fuel-based companies. Nine women were eventually arrested in the protest, which was planned by a group called Extinction Rebellion.

And while the incident likely took some of the shine away from the HSBC’s environment-positive messaging, when it comes to Earth Day activism, it could have been worse

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels