21/01/2020 – News / Cash / Contactless Cards / eWallets / CO2 Emissions / Global

CO2 emissions from payments would almost halve in a cashless society

CO2 emissions from payments would almost

Switching cash for contactless cards would almost halve the CO2 emissions resulting from the manufacture of polymer, paper and PVC plastic, new research reveals.

The new analysis shows that cash usage is declining in every region around the world, with eWallets, bank transfers and credit cards becoming the most popular payment methods in 2018. 


Significant decline in cash use


The UK has seen a significant decline in cash use, accounting for just 28 per cent of overall transactions in 2018, or seven per cent of eCommerce purchases. This represents a 16-per-cent decrease from 2017–2018, and a 32-per-cent decline in cash payments since 2008.


Banknotes were used in 10.9 billion exchanges over the past year, while contactless credit and debit cards accounted for 7.3 billion. Measuring these figures against the 3.7 billion banknotes and 124 million contactless cards in circulation reveals that cards are used for an average of 60 exchanges each, while banknotes are used for three. 


The power of plastic


Manufacturing a polymer or paper banknote produces 10.75g of CO2 equivalent while making a PVC card with contactless chip produces 40g of CO2e. When this is mapped over the same lifetime, banknotes could produce 40.8 billion g/CO2e emissions, while contactless cards will produce 11.5 million kg.


If the number of exchanges made using banknotes and contactless cards stayed the same over the next year, and 1/7 of the cards in circulation were manufactured that year, CO2 emissions could drop by 45.15 per cent. 


Entitled ‘Global Payment Methods’, the analysis from a2zcasinos.org collates official reports to reveal the potential societal repercussions of digital exclusivity, whereby coins, banknotes and cheques are replaced by eWallets, cryptocurrencies and bank cards. 


Since 2015, digital payment methods have risen to meet the needs of online shoppers, with eWallets and bank transfers the most popular of these in 2018. Cash is forecasted to be replaced by debit card as the leading payment method by the end of this year.

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