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Egift cards: The green alternative to plastic?

What happens to all your plastic cards – your credit, debit and gift cards – when they are gone? Do you chop them up and throw them in the trash or try to recycle them? No matter what, plastic cards can be tough on the environment. The impact can be obvious for a business sending out a large number of gift cards at once, and efforts to search for a “greener” alternative are already underway. One only has to look at the sheer volume of plastic cards in production today to see the value in an eco-friendly option. Billions of cards made per year When looking at only plastic cards, the numbers can be staggering. According to the trade association the International Card Manufacturers Association, there were more than 34 billion cards made in 2013 alone. That is up 1.9 percent compared to 2012. The ICMA research showed that North America produced more than 9 billion cards in 2013. Markets were also strong in other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia Pacific. Push underway for green solution While the traditional plastic card market is growing, many businesses are already on the lookout for more green options when it comes to credit, debit and gift cards.

“Employers are already on the hunt for green card alternatives.”

Two such organizations are Whole Foods and Starbucks. The Los Angeles Times spoke to Whole Foods gift card project manager Marushka Bland about the desire for an eco-friendly variant. “Generally, at Whole Foods, we like to think green … but we were producing tons and tons of waste from PVC cards and that wasn’t in line with what we want to do,” Bland told the media outlet. Overall, many businesses simply want options for their employees and customers. That could be in the form of an alternative material, like a wood-based card, or as a virtual card. Virtual rewards provide the answer Today, one of the best alternatives to the plastic card is a virtual card. Naturally, this removes the physical card altogether, instead sending rewards through email. For consumers, an egift card can be welcomed for several reasons:

  1. Eco-friendly – The lack of plastic instantly makes an egift card more environmentally friendly.
  2. Convenience – Virtual rewards are also more convenient. Businesses can customize their card with a logo or message, or they can offer employees and customers the option of which card to choose.
  3. Security – By opting for virtual, there is less of a chance of losing the card itself, not to mention the security of the virtual rewards platform.

Virtual cards can be the answer, especially for employers looking for a green rewards option or researchers wanting to incentive their surveys without hurting the environment.

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