Recycled PVC Payment Cards See a Surge, with Shipments Set to Rise to 638 million in 2026

A clear sustainable agenda is taking hold in the payments market
01 Jun 2022

Banks and financial institutions have pivoted even further toward sustainable offerings in the payments market. Now this is expanding beyond the material side, which is still seeing rapid uptake as it relates to payment card shipments, and into other offerings and solutions that are tackling the issue of sustainability.  ABI Research, a global technology intelligence firm, confirms that recycled PVC payment cards will see a surge in shipments, reaching 638 million in 2026.

“As it relates to the material side, Recycled PVC (rPVC) is seeing a significant growth in Europe and elsewhere as more projects come online and launch,” says Sam Gazeley, Digital Payment Technologies Analyst at ABI Research. “After the woes of 2020, rPVC will command a position as the largest replacement of first-use PVC in the payment card market, especially in Europe, where the presence of a high number of major card vendors, such as Thales, IDEMIA, and Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) have established rPVC as a mainstay material. Driven by large issuing banks in Europe and spreading across all regions, the convenience, price point, availability, and integration with existing personalization infrastructure will all play to its favor.”

Recycled PVC shipments will increase from 177.5 million shipments in 2021 to 638.0 million in 2026 as it consumes a significant chunk of the traditional PVC payment card market. As it relates to other materials, reclaimed and ocean-bound plastic will see most of its growth in the North American region, where there is a higher appetite for the material among card issuers and consumers. Championed by CPI Card Groups offering of the Second Wave card, reclaimed and ocean-bound plastic cards will see shipment volumes increase from 44.7 million in 2021 to 89.9 million in 2026.

Boasting a more accessible price point than Polylactic Acid (PLA), Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol (PETG) has found a niche in the payments card market, growing from 33.1 million shipments in 2021 to 105.1 million in 2026.

PLA has also seen higher growth than originally anticipated. Advantages for the materials lie in it being a truly biological material and being technically biodegradable. ABI Research forecasts PLA to increase from 31.7 million shipments in 2021 to 97.1 million in 2026.

There is a clear sustainable agenda taking hold in the payments market, not just from the materials side but all aspects of the ecosystem. “The push from conventions, such as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and an increased scrutiny on the payments market and its environmental impact has proven a pivotal tipping point, with an increasing number of consumers and end users paying close attention to how sustainable the businesses they transact with really are. This is forcing banks to respond, with the payment card being a highly visible, branded physical link between the bank itself and the customer. With most of the installed base of payment cards constructed from first-use PVC, an opportunity remains for sustainable payment cards to visibly show the commitment of a bank to its corporate social responsibility,” Gazeley concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Alternative Solutions for Sustainability in the Payments Market application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Digital Payment Technologies research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific technology.


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