United Kingdom – Whether for Amazon or Ikea, most major brands offer them nowadays: gift cards. In fact, UK consumers spend over Â£5.5 billion using these shiny PVC cards every year – and the market continues to grow. Some two billion new cards are produced annually although most of them end up in landfill after they have been redeemed. RecoCard is a new scheme that seeks to break this habit.
Around 2500 tonnes of PVC is used to create new gift cards in the UK each year – material which could very well be recycled, according to Axion Consulting and the British Plastics Federation (BPF).
The project partners report that the new RecoCard collection scheme has recycled 1 million gift cards so far, thus saving 10 tonnes of PVC from landfill. The pilot project sourced 25 pallets of out-of-date cards from retailer Jellyfish Livewire, which were then reprocessed into granules to make irrigation pipes.
The scheme could be easily extended to other types of card – for example, hotel key cards and customer loyalty cards. To take the scheme to the next level, however, investment in recycling infrastructure is said to be necessary.
Axion is suggesting the setting-up of a collection hub for PVC cards near recycling facilities so that material can be transferred in bulk loads to minimise transportation costs. Owing to the relatively short lifecycle of gift cards, the potential influx of material available for recycling is thought to be considerable.
‘Once again, PVC is showing how its sustainability credentials have stepped up to the plate,’ comments Francisco Morcillo, the BPF’s head of public and industrial affairs. ‘Retailers now have the option to contribute further to a more circular economy by getting involved with the scheme.’