Making Metal Payment Cards Sustainable
By Greg Maes, Chief Operating Officer of CompoSecure
Working in the payment industry for the last 25 years, travelling is a part of my life. I have lived and worked in seven countries. My family and I have seen the pollution in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the grey snow resulting from China’s industrial areas. Those experiences fuelled my passion and commitment to creating a more sustainable world, both personally and professionally. I began my career in Germany, where companies were already developing sustainability initiatives to address environmental issues. I carry the lessons I learned there with me today. In fact, a key reason I now work at CompoSecure is that I believe metal payment cards are better for the environment than plastic.
The use of recycled stainless steel plays an important role in sustainable design and alternative energy evolution. Ultimately, the most environmentally friendly materials are corrosion-resistant, durable, have high-recycled content and recapture rates, provide long service life and reduce resource use. Stainless steel provides all these benefits. If the correct stainless steel is selected and properly maintained, it will last the intended life of the product. Stainless steel is also 100% recyclable into the same product with no reduction in quality.
CompoSecure has been proactively pursuing environmentally friendly products for over 20 years and is now manufacturing card products using stainless steel that contains 65% post-consumer recycled stainless steel. When considering that 33-50% of the card’s weight is made up of metal materials, the overall amount of recycled materials in the card by weight is over 50%, a very high bar for the industry.
In addition to what materials go into our products, we also analyse how we make our cards, reducing waste and promoting sustainability at every step of the process — from using an energy-efficient LED lighting system, to recycling the water used in manufacturing. For instance, CompoSecure uses a closed water filtration system when manufacturing millions of cards a year, enabling a more efficient way to reuse more than 80% of this water.
Last year, CompoSecure enlisted Sustainable Business Consulting as a third-party advisor to complete its GHG inventory to assess emissions, energy consumption and waste. The annual report provides a comprehensive accounting of total greenhouse gas emissions for all man-made sources in the United States. As part of its GHG inventory, CompoSecure computed its 2019 and 2020 emissions for its operations and began taking active steps to reduce its overall carbon footprint and offset its energy consumption. CompoSecure purchased Renewable Energy Credits to ensure 100% of its electricity and gas usage is matched by renewable energy credits.
Industry Movement to Green
CompoSecure is not alone in this effort. Several industry initiatives have established standards for sustainability in products and practices, and CompoSecure is the first metal payment card manufacturer to meet these industry standards.
- ICMA EcoLabel Standard Certification: CompoSecure achieved ICMA EcoLabel Standard certification and verified assurance on its Ceramic Metal Hybrid Dual Interface Card, Metal Hybrid Dual Interface Card and Metal Veneer Dual Interface Card products in the recycled content category. This certification was created by the International Card Manufacturers Association (ICMA), a global trade association for card manufacturers, personalizers, issuers and suppliers. The EcoLabel Standard Program was created in response to consumer and card issuer demand for more eco-friendly payment and identification cards, sets measurable criteria for assessing the environmental impact of cards and conforms with global ISO principles for environmental labelling through a third-party eco-labelling certification program.
- UL Environment Claim Validation: CompoSecure’s Ceramic Metal Hybrid Dual Interface Card, Metal Hybrid Dual Interface Card and Metal Veneer Dual Interface Card products achieved Environmental Claim Validation from UL, the global safety science leader and one of the world’s leading sources for credible and sustainable product information. UL utilizes rigorous scientific processes to evaluate the accuracy of environmental claims. CompoSecure will participate in an annual review process to maintain its UL validations.
- ISO 14001 Certification: The certification process follows standards set by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) to reduce the effect of global warming and avert any and all adverse impacts on the global climate. CompoSecure’s ISO implementation took place over 12 months. Audits were conducted at CompoSecure manufacturing centres and offices. Through this certification process, CompoSecure has improved its sustainability operations by reducing its waste, improving its efficiency and enhancing operations using a systematic approach embodied in ISO 14001.
We All Have a Part to Play
Education changes minds. I’ve seen that it’s possible to convert resistance to changing to eco-friendlier ways of doing business –- when people learn the benefits, they become sustainability advocates. Transforming mindset is powerful and keeps me focused on ideas that can further reduce our carbon footprint.
It’s exciting to witness the industry’s embrace of change. American Express® and JPMorgan Chase® are leading the way with aggressive environmental initiatives in the financial sector. CompoSecure is following suit by committing to take its environmental initiatives to the next level in the years to come, including a plan to become carbon neutral, shift to renewable energy, partner with financial institutions on reclaiming used cards and bolster research for future, more sustainable products.
Sustainability isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for business. A recent global report based on a survey by Edgar, Dunn & Company of 18,000 people in 18 markets around the world showed a global climate mindset with an overwhelming majority (72%) of respondents saying they would choose a payment card made of eco-friendly materials if all rewards and benefits were the same. Banks can now invest in their bottom line while also investing in sustainability.
Sustainability needs to be part of the foundation of all companies. Our efforts are just beginning, but my colleagues and I are committed to a higher purpose, keeping this planet healthy for all generations to come.