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Credit cards are made of Polyvinyl Chloride Acetate (PVCA) which is cheaper to produce than other sustainable materials. The acetate is what gives them the stiffness necessary for them to last all those years inside your wallet – cards which you will probably forget about – yet maintaining some flexibility in order for you to squeeze three in the same wallet individual partition. And it is precisely the acetate that makes the cards difficult to recycle along with other plastic objects.
But credit cards are not the only ones made from PVCA. All those store, membership, student and library cards and so on are made from this non-recyclable plastic. If you count how much of them you have in your wallet – and even if you have a nice upcycled document holder like ours– you will see that we all have a lot of those tiny non-recyclable cards that will expire and/or turn useless once you finish high school.
What can you do to discard these cards or reuse them? Well, you can do a lot of crazy and funny things like using it as a handy tool like a shoehornor or give the expired credit card to your children and teach them how to or not to spend, you can make a guitar pick or earrings holders just using a scissor or simply use it as a bookmarker (we can never have enough of these disappearing objects).
If you don’t have the time or you lack the imagination to reuse the PVCA cards, you can send them to Terracycle (depending on where you live). It’s still a bit expensive and the service is not available in all countries, but we see it as a start. You can also contact your city’s town hall and ask if they have a PVCA recycling facility that accept your plastic cards. If you are in Portugal, you can donate your old cards for recycling here.If there’s nothing you can do at the moment, you can always refuse them. The planet and your wallet will thank you.