Is there anything more annoying than finding a gift card only to discover that it's expired? We heard this feedback from our customers and agreed. So, in March 2018, Woolworths announced that we were removing expiry dates on all our gift cards. This includes Woolworths Supermarket Gift Card, BIG W, Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Cellarmasters and Caltex Woolworths Petrol gift cards. “It means one less thing to worry about for our busy customers, who will have complete flexibility to use gift cards as and when it suits them” - Chris Cramond, Woolworths Head of Financial Services and Insurance.
Once we made the decision to remove expiry dates on all our gift cards, we were faced with the task of how best to go about disposing of existing cards with expiry dates (around 1.5 million of them), in a sustainable way with no waste.
We partnered up with Close The Loop, who specialise in best-in-class sustainability solutions to companies for efficient recovery and re-use of valuable resources from their products. First we had to look at what gift cards are made from - in our case, it was PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), plastic and cardboard. The final process and what recycled gift cards can be turned into was fascinating - they’re used to help create energy!
The PVC and plastic from gift cards has a high calorific value - this is the amount of energy contained in fuel or food. The PVC and plastic is used to fuel cement kilns. By following this process, environmental toxins from the PVC and plastic are captured by the cement, as opposed to being an emission into the environment during the alternate process of incineration. Cement and concrete are also highly recyclable themselves.
The cardboard from the recycled gift cards is recycled and made into new cardboard, which is then used by businesses who use cardboard for various packaging needs.
Gift cards during the recycling process