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Santander launches bank card recycling pilot in 28 branches

Self-serve machines will break debit and credit cards down into plastic pellets for re-use.

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While bank cards are becoming ever-more eco-friendly, with biodegradable and non-plastic options coming to market, for the majority of people, plastic cards remain the norm.

Santander has a plan to help improve this situation, starting with 28 self-serve bank card recycling machines that it is rolling out across the country.

Starting as a pilot, Santander will let customers (and non-customers) recycle expired or unused credit or debit cards, with the machines shredding cards and then converting them into plastic pellets.

These pellets can then be reused in the creation of new bank cards in the future.

"Bank cards are traditionally very difficult to recycle. With 92m debit cards and 60m credit cards currently in UK circulation, it is a significant challenge and one that we want to play our part in helping,” said Fermín Martínez de Hurtado Yela, head of sustainability and responsible banking at Santander UK.

The challenge of recycling bank cards is in the many layers of laminated plastic, metal oxide particles, solvents, inks and magnetic strip, which are all fused together.

Santander has been working hard to make its own cards more sustainable, with a promise that by 2025 all its debit and credit cards in the UK, Spain, Portugal and Poland will be made from sustainable materials.

However, in the short term, this pilot will help both its customers and non-customers to do their part in ensuring that expired bank cards don’t end up in a landfill.

The addresses of Santander's 28 card recycling machines in the UK can be found here.

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