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Basketball card

Would an Upcycled Parallel Resonate With Collectors?

Yesterday, I put up a twitter post asking if people liked clear plastic acetate cards. I only received five responses, but three people said they liked them, one person was indifferent, and one disliked acetates. Five responses is far too few to draw any conclusions, but if more people either liked or were indifferent to plastic cards, this may present an interesting opportunity to executives in the card industry.

1996-97 Bowmans Best Shots Michael Jordan (Plastic Acetate Card)

Now, I’m not tree-hugging environmentalist, but I do recycle and I do care about the environment. I also appreciate when companies take efforts, no matter how small, to try and make a difference. I used to buy dish and hand soap from a company called Method, in part because they had a bottle made from recycled ocean plastic.

I loved their efforts to use otherwise useless plastic, but what about all the thinner and smaller fragments of plastic that neither Method or anyone can find a use for. Perhaps one thing that could be done with this unusable plastic would be to melt it down into a very thin layer, say the thickness of a basketball (or any sport) card.

I’m certainly not a materials scientist or a plastics chemist, but melting the garbage plastic down into a sheet doesn’t sound all that difficult. If these sheets of this otherwise useless plastic were made, it would that create an opportunity for a company like Panini to create a recycled, or better yet, upcycled parallel card set using these thin sheets of recycled plastic.

Even replacing just 1% (or 0.1%) of all new basketball cards with otherwise useless plastics could be a great way to create a new product and give old plastic a new meaning. It could be a perfect marriage and a great use case for upcycling, but it would ultimately depend on how well it resonated with collectors. However, I think it could do well.

While my poll did have a miniscule response rate, it still leads me to believe that people like plastic cards, or at least transparent plastic cards. So at least the card look and feel shouldn’t be a problem for collectors, assuming recycled plastic is similar to acetate plastic.

But I think a possible big draw for collectors would be to get the first ever upcycled card, hopefully featuring some of the games best players or players who are known environmentalists. I can’t think of any, but there have to be at least a couple out there. The NBA also has a green initiative, so an upcycled card would be an on-brand move for the NBA (although I just checked it out, and it doesn’t seem to get much attention at all).

Also, doing something like an upcycled card would be low hanging fruit in order to get some easy good press from the media, which may draw new collectors into the fold. On the flip side, it would also help introduce or re-introduce collectors to the concept of upcycling, and may help those in the industry think of other creative ways to use otherwise non-usable plastics to create stunning sport card parallels.

I’d also love to see what sort of cool designs the graphic design teams come up with for an upcycled card. I would imagine there would some green natural looking elements, but design teams could really have a field day with that.

Maybe this is a terrible concept idea, but I think it could work if it was done right. I’m very interested to see what others think and if they would have any interest at all in a card made from recycled plastic. If so, what would need to happen to make the card design work for you?

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