How to dispose of credit cards correctly

How to dispose of credit cards correctly

When it comes to disposing of your old credit or health insurance card, you might think simply cutting it up and throwing it in the trash is the easiest solution. While that's not necessarily incorrect, there are alternative methods worth considering.

One reason you receive a new credit card every few years is due to the constant advancements in chip technology. These updates are designed to enhance card security and fight fraud. Despite this, many of us opt to discard our old cards in the trash without much thought.

However, it's important to recognize that there are more sustainable options available. Firstly, before disposing of your old card, it's crucial to thoroughly cut it into several pieces. This action helps to destroy any stored data on the card's chip or magnetic strip, reducing the risk of potential misuse.

One alternative option is to return the card to the issuer or health insurance company. For instance, if you send your card back to your card provider, they will ensure its proper disposal through shredding. A specialized company then collects the shredded fragments, which are further processed into granules. This recycling process mirrors the procedures used for recycling PET bottles.

Interestingly, even the microchip and magnetic strip are shredded during this process, without affecting the overall recycling procedure. Moreover, returning the card to the issuer not only ensures its safe disposal but also contributes to environmental sustainability through recycling efforts.

master card recycle bin
© Mastercard recycle bin

Another possibility for disposing of old cards is through designated electronic waste collection points. By dropping off your old card at one of these collection points, you can ensure it is properly recycled. These facilities employ specialized methods to shred the cards and separate the different materials they contain.

Upon shredding, the plastic components are cleaned and, in some cases, repurposed for manufacturing new products. Additionally, valuable metals found within the microchip, such as precious metals, are extracted and recycled back into the production cycle.

Alternatively, if you opt to dispose of your card with household waste, it's worth noting that this isn't forbidden. Household waste, including credit cards, is typically incinerated in waste incineration plants (KVA). During this process, pollutants are captured by the plant's flue gas cleaning system, ensuring minimal environmental impact.

Furthermore, any metals present in the card, such as gold from the chip, remain intact and can be recovered post-incineration. Even small gold quantities accumulate into tiny gold balls during the incineration process. Subsequently, these gold remnants are meticulously processed after incineration, contributing to resource recovery and reuse. 

In conclusion, whether you choose to recycle your old card through designated channels, return it to the issuer, or dispose of it with household waste, there are mechanisms in place to ensure its proper handling and potential reuse. By making informed decisions about how to dispose of your old credit or health insurance cards, you can play a part in promoting environmental sustainability and resource conservation.