Are credit cards recyclable? After all, they are made of plastic materials, right? Unfortunately, credit card recycling would not be a very practical idea, as I will show you below. However, even though credit cards are not recyclable at this point in time, there are a few things you can do to be more “green” with your credit card accounts. These practical tips can save you some grief, and also save the world (not really, but it’s nice to think that).
Why Credit Cards Themselves Shouldn’t Be Recycled
The main problem is that when a person is issued a credit card, it has an expiration date (which is typically only 1-3 years from the issue date). Once this expiration date arrives, the credit card company issues a new one with the same account number. But you don’t want to merely trash your old one, as it has your unique credit card number on it. Instead, you would want to shred it up into fine pieces.
This same reason also makes it difficult for recycling. If you shredded each card, there would be a serious risk that people could piece it back together and obtain your active account number, which could lead to some identity theft issues. Also, it since each individual only uses 1-3 credit cards on average, and they usually last at least 1-3 years each, that means only 1 card per adult person would expire per year. It would be silly to try and recycle a small card on such a rare occurrence. Gift cards, maybe so. But credit cards, nah!
In your entire life, you would barely have a small paper bag to fill in most cases, or they may all fit inside a zip-lock baggie. Not too much of an environmental concern. I have blazed through more gift cards than credit cards at this point in my life.
In addition, most credit cards are made with PVC plastic, which is not recyclable at this point. But, if you are a green earth-loving-machine, then don’t fear, there are ways you can have your card and recycle it too!
How to Be More Green & Earth Friendly With Your Credit Cards
- When you do destroy your old cards, chop them up into fine pieces. I mean like REALLY fine pieces. This is difficult to do, but you can do it in a few minutes. This will make it decay faster than if it were all one big plastic card. Then you can dispose of them in the trash, which will be spread around in a landfill, and eventually decay. It may not sound fancy, but is probably much safer than if your credit cards were sent to a recycle place where they could be pieced back together.
- On your credit card account, you can usually switch to receive electronic statements, as opposed to mailed statements. Mailed statements not only waste postage and gas to be delivered, but they waste a paper envelope, and 1-3 paper sheets with your credit card. It makes sense to keep them in electronic format.
- Find another use for the plastic, but be careful. You can get really creative with your old credit cards and keep them for another use. Some people have created artwork. Some have used them as coasters. Some have made crafts out of them, and some use them to break into doors (joking). There are ways you can be creative and re-use the plastic cards if you really want too. But I would be extremely cautious, and make sure that you completely remove the old card number, magnetic strip, and make the card unusable and unrecognizable if you do reuse it.
So there you have it! You can’t exactly throw your card into the recycling bin, but you can definitely get more use, and be more green when it comes to your credit card accounts.