Table of Contents

Can PVC Cards Be Recycled?

recycle PVC

Every year, there are more than 100 million pounds of PVC material from plastic cards enter the waste stream. Then can PVC cards be recycled?

PVC is recyclable, however, PVC cards are unlikely to be accepted in the curbside bin. It’s not only because the cost of recycling PVC cards is high, but also because it takes a long time to educate people to distinguish which cards can be recycled and which cards cannot. Besides, plastic cards all look the same that people cannot even tell what kind of plastic they are using.


What cards can be recycled?


In today’s world, cards are essential for networking and creating opportunities. Cards have important information such as brand name, email address, contact details, and website address. When the cards get old and are no longer presentable, they are recycled. However, not all cards can be recycled due to the additives present in the manufacturing process. Therefore, what cards can be recycled and for how many times?

  • PVC cards

Durable scratch-resistant PVC cards that tend not to stain are recyclable, even though PVC isn’t generally accepted by standard recycling refuse collectors. If included in general waste, PVC cards could become a toxic pollutant in landfills. These cards are reprocessed into granules to make irrigation pipes. This prevents 10 tonnes of plastic from being landfilled. PVC card lifecycle is short although alternative cardboard and plastic options exist. PVC cards can be recycled for 7 times repeatedly.

  • Wooden cards

Wooden cards come from natural trees and they are one of the easiest to recycle. However, not all wooden cards can be recycled especially those that are chemically treated. Also, painted or soiled wooden cards are also not always considered recyclable materials.

  • PET-G cards

These cards are made from a molecule of ‘PET’ modified with glycol ‘G’ that makes them resistant to the material but very soft. The cards are recyclable, have a low footprint, and have a low environmental impact.

  • R-PVC cards

These cards are made of 100% post-consumer recycled material. They can be reused and recycled and still provide great quality and durable cards.


What Cards Cannot Be Recycled And Why?


Some PVC cards that contain materials that could contaminate other recyclables in a given batch due to their size are non-recyclable. Cards with glue, glitter, or over-printed in a 3D image or foil cannot be recycled. Also, cards that are greasy and dirty cannot be recycled too. Access control cards, hotel key cards cannot be recycled because these cards have RFID chip inside which caused too much contamination that’s hard to remove.

Laminated paper cards cannot be recycled because of the plastic coating they are covered in. Cards that are torn or damaged in any form cannot be recycled as they may destroy the expensive equipment used in the process. This also harms the quality of the new product.

Heavy additives put in some cards during the manufacturing process make it hard for them to be recycled. Also, the recycling process of some cards may be expensive and time-consuming, therefore, it’s better to dispose them than recycle.


Are there any PVC cards really be recycled?


The largest recycling company for plastic cards is Earthworks System which is based in Cleveland, USA. They accepted plastic gift cards, hotel key cards, id cards, etc. from consumers and distributors, and then recycled into a section of polymeric sheet material which is then distributed for use manufacturing new plastic cards.

However, it stopped accepting plastic cards because the technology of these plastic cards have been updated and most PVC cards cannot be effectively recycled.

Some companies provide mail-back boxes for plastic cards, but it’s mainly catered to retailers and consumers due to the size and cost, and this way cannot effectively recycle PVC cards in a large scale.


What can we do?


PVC cards serve lots of purposes in our daily life, but recycling PVC cards is still a huge challenge and it caused serious environmental problems. More and more retailers and hotels are using eco-friendly materials to replace PVC cards, for example, BioPaper. Using a sustainable material instead of PVC is packed with a lot of environmental benefits. These include; less energy is used by manufacturers in creating new products, reducing the amount of trash that ends up in the oceans, preventing global warming, and preventing a high carbon footprint.

Go to Top