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BoE looks to palm oil as substitute


A fist full of £5 notes. (Image courtesy & © Bank of England)

As reported in the April issue of Bank Note Reporter, the Bank of England is seeking the views of the public on the future composition of its £5 notes. It has recognized the concerns raised about the discovery of traces of animal-derived additives in the new £5 polymer issue and has been seeking an alternative that might be used in the planned polymer £20.

Consultations with its security printer De La Rue and Innovia Security, the potential suppliers of polymer substrate, have led to the conclusion that the only practical alternatives to animal-derived tallow are additives derived from palm oil.

There are few subjects more likely to inflame the environmental lobby than palm oil. The top website listed on a Google search for “palm oil” is “Say No To Palm Oil.” There the product is linked to deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses.

The BoE has done the right thing. It has commissioned a comprehensive report on the environmental impact of potential plant-based alternatives to animal tallow. It made this available alongside their media release of March 30. Its conclusion was that it could circumvent any possible environmental impacts by using only those vegetable-based additives that meet a certification standard for environmentally sustainable production.

This proposal may have mollified Britain’s vegans but has sent the Greens into knee-jerk orbit. The Daily Mail’s extended headline of March 31 sums it up, “Bank of England keeps the vegans happy with plan to replace animal fats in new notes with palm oil - now the greens are up in arms!”

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter. >> Subscribe today.

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