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Biodegradable cards make a foray

To work towards combating climate change and promote sustainability, banks around the globe have been exploring various alternatives. Over the years they have come up with several possibilities that will green finance in the long run, with green bonds the most...


Biodegradable cards make a foray

To work towards combating climate change and promote sustainability, banks around the globe have been exploring various alternatives. Over the years they have come up with several possibilities that will green finance in the long run, with green bonds the most well known product.

In India too, some banks have tried to address climate concerns. Among them is Axis Bank that has taken the exercise to a novel level by introducing biodegradable cards for consumers for the first time in the country.

They are being offered here to clients as gift cards and are being produced from special plastic that has lower molecular weight and lower toxicity. When disposed off, additives help the cards to biodegrade faster through microbial activity.

“Based on Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) material, they have a shelf life of 18 months and provide our customers a green banking choice,” says Sudhir Kolukula, Assistant Vice President, Axis Bank.

The life cycle

Detailing the research that went into opting for this choice, he explains that the products life cycle was broken into three parts – creation, usage and disposal. While the widely used Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) material for most credit cards has outstanding features for printing, embossing, embedding with microelectronic modules, retaining good edges and last almost five years, it has its minuses. In terms of toxicity, energy consumption and disposal PVC is the worst performing. In contrast PETG is better in all the parameters but has a low shelf life. “We felt they would be an ideal gifting alternative for our customers,” adds Kolukula.

However, for Axis, biodegradable cards is just one green dent it is making. When it started putting in place a sustainability framework in 2014, its aim was to address five pillars – customers, shareholders, employees, environment and communities.

And though it has several initiatives such as certified LEED platinum green buildings for offices, roof top solar energy, procuring wheat straw based paper for internal consumption, potentially the most impacting seems to be its sustainable lending policy.

The bank claims that during corporate project lending, clients have to meet a set of criteria whetted by specialists. “High risk projects undergo environmental and social due diligence conducted by a competent external agency while medium to low risk projects are evaluated by an in-house team of specialists,” says Suresh Warrier, Head - Corporate Affairs, Axis Bank. If followed strictly, it is the way to go.

(This article was published on August 15, 2017)

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