How customer-owned banks are going green

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn


Customer-owned, or 'mutual' banks, exist to serve our members and their communities, not to maximise profit for shareholders.

That's why we are serious about sustainability and making sure that we can continue to fulfil the needs of today without compromising the needs of future generations.

Heritage and People's Choice is undertaking five key initiatives which form part of our broader sustainability program.

sponsored how customer owned banks are going green

1. We're certified as carbon neutral with Climate Active

Accounting for our carbon emissions is an initial step as we develop our longer-term climate strategy and net zero roadmap.

Prior to our merger both Heritage Bank and People's Choice were individually certified with Climate Active, and we are now working towards obtaining combined Climate Active certification for Heritage and People's Choice as one organisation.

We are committed to purchasing carbon offsets from Australian-based projects and in particular NSW and Queensland revegetation programs.

2. Our Green Car Loan

In 2022, vehicle emissions accounted for nearly one-fifth of Australia's total carbon emissions.

One of the main ways Heritage and People's Choice can help reduce emissions is to provide financial incentives that make it easier for our members to purchase electric or hybrid vehicles.

That's why People's Choice Green Car Loan offers a discounted rate for 'green' vehicles. Since August 2022 we have funded the purchase of more than 370 electric and hybrid vehicles. It's all about great value for our members and helping them to support the environment.

3. Eco cards that are gentle on the planet

Debit and credit cards may be small in size but with 14 billion plastic cards in circulation worldwide, they have a surprisingly big eco-impact.

Credit and debit cards are typically made of a plastic known as polyvinyl chloride acetate, or 'PVC'.

The sheer number of debit and credit cards in use means that every year 30 million kilograms of PVC is used to manufacture bank cards. For context, that's equal to the weight of about 150 Boeing 747s.

Yet most of these cards will end up in landfill, where they will take a whopping 400 years to break down.

By transitioning to cards made from plant-based plastics, Heritage Bank is scaling back the amount of virgin plastic we need and reducing the amount of energy that is required to produce our cards.

4. In-branch card recycling - a first in Aussie banking

Heritage Bank members can now visit their local branch to recycle expired or cancelled Heritage Bank Visa credit or debit cards instead of cutting them up and throwing them away.

The cards are securely shredded and from there the materials are sent to TerraCycle, which specialises in recycling hard-to-recycle materials.

We're excited to be the first Australian bank to offer this service to our members and give cards an opportunity for a second life by disposing of them in a more sustainable way.

5. B Corp certification

B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

The aim of the B Corp movement is to transform the global economy to benefit people, communities and the planet and is based on a stakeholder governance model.

We first achieved B Corp certification as People's Choice and we are committed to maintaining our certification into the future as a key means of measuring of our entire social and environmental impact.

It's a genuine commitment

As a customer-owned bank, Heritage and People's Choice has a real commitment to making the world a better place for our customers, our communities, and the environment.

We take steps that make a measurable difference, we support activities that contribute to greater environmental sustainability, and we help our customers make choices that generate positive change for the better.

It helps to ensure that we will all be around for a long time, together with the planet we share.

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories

Michael Töns is executive manager of sustainability and community impact, at Heritage and People's Choice. He has worked in the banking sector for more than 10 years following a career in software development and consulting services. Michael has a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Adelaide, and a Master of Business Administration from Deakin University.