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Maggie Kohn headshot

American Express Relaunched the Green Card—And It's Greener Than the Original

“Through our materiality process, we found we were vulnerable by our use of paper and having cards made out of plastic,” Tim McClimon of American Express said at the 3BL Forum this week. “So, we did something about it.”
By Maggie Kohn
American Express Green Card

American Express relaunched its classic Green Card last week. The color represents more than 50 years of serving customers, and the card itself marks an environmental first for the company. 

Renamed Green from Amex, it's the first American Express card manufactured primarily from plastic recovered from oceans and coasts

“Through our materiality process, we found we were vulnerable by our use of paper and having cards made out of plastic,” Tim McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation and senior vice president at American Express, said at the 3BL Forum this week. “So, we did something about it.” 

American Express will source the plastic in partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a collaborative of organizations and individuals working to protect the world’s oceans. 

“American Express is creating a symbol of change and inviting their network to shape a blue future, one based on creativity, collaboration and eco-innovation,” Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, said in a press statement.

As part of its work with Parley, American Express has committed to remove up to 1 million pounds of marine plastic pollution. To help, in September, the company and Parley kicked off a global call-to-action rallying card members, merchants and employees to take to Instagram and explain why they #BackOurOceans. For every comment received during this time, American Express and Parley committed to remove two pounds of plastic from beaches and coasts.

McClimon also shared that Green from Amex will be recyclable. Starting in 2020, U.S. consumer, small business and corporate card members can send their expired or non-working cards back to American Express, which will work with a vendor to remove the metallic chip and protect consumers’ information while recycling the plastic. 

Another new card feature allows customers to redeem their reward points on products that help reduce plastic waste in their daily lives, including stainless steel water bottles and straws, beverage mugs, and reusable food bags. 

“We hope Green from Amex will serve as a daily reminder to our card members to do their part to back our oceans and consider how they can reduce the use of plastic in their own lives,” Rachel Stocks, executive vice president of global premium products and benefits at American Express, said in a press statement announcing the new card. 

The relaunched card is all part of the company’s broader commitment to eliminate single use-plastics across its operations by 2025. To date, it has replaced all single-use plastics in its cafeteria with compostable packaging and utensils, eliminating 62,000 pounds of single-use plastic, according to the company. It also removed plastic straws and coffee stirrers from its global headquarters, managed office facilities and operating centers. 

Credit card holders have more ways to be green

American Express is not the only financial services company thinking more broadly about how it can reduce its environmental impact. 

Mastercard recently became the first in the sector to set a science-based emissions target, which ensures that its actions help the world meet the goals outlined in the Paris climate agreement.  

Meanwhile, Visa offers several credit cards aligned with the environment. The Green America Visa supports the nonprofit Green America's programs that work to advance clean energy and support green businesses. With the Amazon Watch Visa, card holders can help Amazon Watch in its work with indigenous communities and at the regional and international levels to protect ecologically and culturally sensitive ecosystems in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. 

We also heard at 3BL Forum this week that consumes want to join with companies who value the same issues they do. American Express and others in the sector are giving them just the opportunity. 

Image credit: American Express via Business Wire

Maggie Kohn headshot

Maggie Kohn is excited to be a contributor to Triple Pundit to illustrate how business can achieve positive change in the world while supporting long-term growth. Maggie worked for more than 20 years at the biopharma giant Merck & Co., Inc., leading corporate responsibility and social business initiatives. She currently writes, speaks and consults on corporate responsibility and social impact when she is not busy fostering kittens for her local animal shelter. Click here to learn more.

Read more stories by Maggie Kohn