Minimizing the environmental impact of our operations is one way we drive inclusive and sustainable growth. As part of our commitment to the circular economy, we’re running initiatives with help from our customers to give damaged or expired cards a second chance.
Plastic is one of the environment’s worst nemeses. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, “approximately 7,000 million of the estimated 9,200 million tons of cumulative plastic production between 1950 and 2017 became [dumped or discarded] plastic waste”.
Under our objective to reduce the environmental impact of our operations, Santander is running initiatives to recycle credit and debit cards and cut plastic pollution – and produce sustainable cards.
With sights set on the circular economy, Santander is looking for ways to give expired or damaged cards a new life. A few years ago, we launched an initiative in Portugal to recycle credit and debit cards into materials to make benches, waste bins, flower pots and other street furniture.
We’ve also rolled out the same initiative in Spain. The last five benches made of recycled Santander cards have been installed at our corporate centre, the Santander Group City. Half of them were made from 3,100 cards, 5% from fishing nets, and the rest from other plastics. The benches add to the 130 that we have donated to the city halls of Valencia, Malaga and Santander through a programme backed by Santander España's Global Cards division.
In 2023, we recycled 484,155 cards, which gave new life to 2.4 tonnes of plastic. The 4.5 million-plus sustainable cards issued under this initiative will help Santander eliminate 22 tonnes of single-use plastic and 360 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in Spain alone.
Customers who want to hand in expired or inactive cards can insert them into an ATM (in countries where the service is available) or drop them in the recycling boxes found at branches Poland, Portugal, Spain and the UK. The bank will collect, transport and process the expired cards.
On top of card recycling, we aim for every Santander bank card to be made of sustainable material (like recycled PVC and corn extract) by 2025 in all our markets. We are increasingly looking to recycle at all product life stages. The Global Cards division, part of the global Payments business, is running these initiatives:
Tool for customers to measure their carbon footprint on Santander España’s digital banking app.