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  • Emily Friday

How to Dispose of Old Plastic Credit Cards

Ever wondered how to dispose of old credit and debit cards sustainably?

3-5 years is the average lifespan of a payment card before it has to be thrown out and replaced. These payment cards are made of layers of plastic and the small magnetic strips are made of PVC - a dangerous carcinogenic material that releases toxins into our air and waterways, and eventually, our food.

This lifecycle starts over every time we order a new payment or gift card, so we must consider the impact this is having on our planet - and make sure we’re disposing of our cards safely.

Can PVC Plastic be recycled?

⁠Whilst PVC credit cards are difficult to recycle as most recycling centres will not accept them, some places do accept PVC plastic waste. PVC can be recycled into more credit cards or the materials that make up PVC can be separated and utilised in other manufacturing processes.

As important as it is to clear personal data from old debit/credit cards, it's also important to dispose of these plastic cards sustainably and ethically. Below we've detailed a step-by-step process on how to dispose of your old debit and credit cards:

1) Protect your privacy

First thing's first, do not throw away old debit or credit cards into the bin without first protecting your data. To do this, take the following steps:

  1. Hide your signature by scribbling on the signature area of your card with a permanent marker

  2. Shred or cut up the card with a shredder or sturdy scissors to cut through the EMV chip on the card (the gold square above the long card number) and cut through the magnetic strip

  3. Distribute the pieces of your card into separate waste, or send them to a suitable recycling organisation

2) Find a suitable recycling organisation

As most recycling centres do not accept PVC plastic credit cards, you'll need to choose a suitable organisation that recycles PVC waste.

The following UK organisations offer zero-waste solutions for recycling PVC plastic waste and will accept your old cards: ID Card Centre, Terracycle, or VinylPlus.

Did you know?

The carbon footprint of a plastic card is approximately 21 grams per card. In 2017 alone, credit card manufacturing amounted to 136,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide!*

3) Go Plastic-Free

With 20,500,000,000 plastic cards currently in circulation, we at ImageNPay have decided to work towards a solution that offers plastic-free card payments.

To help reduce your future plastic waste and reduce the CO2 impact left by credit cards across the globe, try an alternative approach to plastic cards. An ImageNPay card is 100% digital and plastic-free and works just like a regular bank card with contactless payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay, the ability to set up standing orders and more!

ImageNPay digital cards


To find out more about the benefits of going plastic-free with an ImageNPay Prepaid Card, click the button below & download FREE on App Store and Google Play Store

*Facts, figures, and data from


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