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Show me some Green

Guest Post by Jagmeet Singh, Principal, Manufacturing Management Consulting Services, Infosys Limited

Last time when I was in the US, my interaction with friends while shopping, were mostly identifying the right price of an item or how many Greens (dollar bills) it would cost? And as part of the conversation we also discussed various evolutionary modes of payment like credit cards, gift cards, debit cards, pre-paid cards and so on. Among all these, what intrigued me was how a simple looking plastic card can replace our hurdles of carrying Cash/Greens. And whatever form these cards may come in, they would still be made of plastic. And we all know plastic cards are made up of PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride)! Does it ring a bell? PVC - a toxic compound that produces carcinogens and toxins including chlorine residue and heavy-metal pollutants.

Even worse, when burned, PVC releases dioxins and gases such as hydrogen chloride. And ever wondered what happens to these cards after we discard them? Yes, they end up in landfill contributing millions of pounds of plastic to the waste stream impacting the environment and increasing global warming. So, either way one Green resource is taking away another Green resource.

Moreover, the life cycle of a product like a plastic card is also very interesting to look at. It follows exactly the same life cycle stages as of any other product , stages of concept, design, develop, assemble and ship. Each lifecycle stage governs and complies with regulations either driven by local laws or product needs or both. Complying or meeting regulatory requirements, for some, is product compliance and for others, it is a mere fulfillment of market needs. However, both are narrow in approach. And they do not take care of larger impacts on the environment, planet or eco-system. Unless, a product is holistically mapped to People, Planet and Profit impacts, it would be wrong to declare it as a compliant product.

So, for plastic, raw materials mostly come from petroleum and natural gas, both of which involve extraction. Post extraction they undergo a chemical synthesis process to get to a defined shape. After the shape has been defined they undergo an assembly process where chipset and magnetic tape are fixed on the card. Cards are then shipped to the requestor (mostly banks) and from there, they are again shipped to the customers. A study commissioned by MasterCard revealed "If the credit card industry worldwide produces roughly 1 billion cards per year, the study found that the total annual impact of credit cards would be 21,000 tons of CO2".

Now, if a small item like card can do this much harm to our environment do we need any more data to remind ourselves about environmental responsibility.

 

 

Comments

Wow!

Amazing insights... thanks for sharing them Jagmeet...

Let us go GREEN!

Another reason for me to stop using my credit card

:-)

Bhaskar

Absolutely! Food for thought, buddy! But I thought using a plastic card reduces paper money and saves a lot of trees! Which has a worse environmental impact is what that needs a check.

Good one. :)
Mohana Priya

Human being is born greedy.It is this which drives knowledgeable men to think,design and develop some useful thing for the society without giving thought to its harmful effects. The item invented after sometimes becomes known to be harmful for the society thatis , it is no more green for the environment for example the so called all types of plastic cards in use in the world.
The author in this article has provoked the reader to think carefully for the R&D work.But the thinking is always shadowed / eclipsed by
the political greed.
At the end I very boldly appreciate the article and wish that the author keeps on writing such types of stimulating articles in future also.It will be a pleasure for me to read such articles.
I wish him best of luck for future articles.

On a lighter note, I am grad that I use only one credit card, otherwise people like me can double the carbon emission in the world.

On the serious note, I think a credit card is replacing thousands of currency notes and bill receipts which in turn need hundreds of cut trees to be wasted.

Excellent article Jagmeet. An explicit example of a thought provoking and eye opener article. I think people have already given thought to it which lead to development of electronic wallet. I congratulate Jagmeet to have written such an article. Hope to read many more from you...

Thanks for your comments on the blog.
It might surprise you that the paper found in dollar bills isn't like the paper in your printer. In one sense, it may not be paper at all. Where most paper is made with wood pulp, the paper found in printed money uses none. Instead, currency paper is mostly made up of cotton and linen, materials more commonly used for making cloth.

Thanks for your comments on the blog.
It might surprise you that the paper found in dollar bills isn't like the paper in your printer. In one sense, it may not be paper at all. Where most paper is made with wood pulp, the paper found in printed money uses none. Instead, currency paper is mostly made up of cotton and linen, materials more commonly used for making cloth.

Jagmeet,

Very nice article and very informative..Hope to see more such article from you :)

A good insight to the plastic that runs most the western countries and now catching -up in Asia.

However, credit card industry does understand the impact and hence are investing in new technolgies to make payments Examples: Mobile web payments (WAP) and
Contactless NFC (Near Field Communication)

Really nice and thought provoking article. In our day to day transactions we care more about our comfort and less for environment and GREEN.
Recently came to USA and found that plastic usage here in much in abandance. Every weekend I go to Walmart and they will pack my grocerries in at least 10 plastic bags. All free..
Seems like much more awareness is required in world and currently people have. Please keep it up writing thought proviking article for safer and sustaininable planet in future...

Good one Jagmeet.

Why don't you complete the loop by talking about green PLM?

amazing and it must be taken into account.....

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