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BoE says note composition won’t change

 A fist full of fatty £5s. (Image courtesy and © Bank of England)

A fist full of fatty £5s. (Image courtesy and © Bank of England)

As regular BNR readers will be aware, there has been a minor uproar raging across the Atlantic as to the composition of the polymer substrate being used for the new note issues of the Bank of England. The matter concerns the small amount of animal-derived products added to the polymer to assist rendering the plastic soft and pliable.

On Aug. 10, the Bank of England announced “that after careful and serious consideration and extensive public consultation, there will be no change to the composition of polymer used for future banknotes. The new polymer £20 note and future print runs of £5 and £10 notes will continue to be made from polymer manufactured using trace amounts of chemicals, typically less than 0.05%, ultimately derived from animal products.”

The BoE said it had reached this decision only after thorough consideration of the availability of environmentally sustainable alternatives, as well as recognizing that animal-derived additives are widespread in everyday products including alternative payment methods—presumably plastic cards.

Throughout their assessment, the bank ran a full public consultation. It conducted outreach meetings with representatives of potentially impacted groups, commissioned technical trials, held commercial discussions, and commissioned independent environmental research.

A total of 3,554 people responded to the consultation. Of these, 88 percent were against the use of animal-derived additives and 48 percent were against the use of palm oil-derived additives.

The bank found that the substitution of palm oil raised serious questions about environmental susstainability and, at this time, they are unable to source the highest level of sustainable palm oil. In addition, it found that the extra cost of switching to be around £16.5 million over the next 10 years. The Treasury did not regard such an additional cost as a responsible use of the taxpayers’ money.

In short, there was no sound reason for making a change, nor was there a suitable alternative.

Full details are available at the BoE website:

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