Paper Money

Costa Rica joins polymer currency club

Costa Rica has made its 1,000-colón note with the plastic substrate since 2011.

Original images courtesy of CCL Secure.

Add another country to the list of those using polymer instead of paper for all of their currency.

The announcement that Costa Rica would be joining the club was not made by the country’s central bank, but by CCL Secure, the multinational substrate manufacturer and supplier of polymer to 24 countries. 

A CCL press release said that the central bank’s treasurer made the revelation at a high security printing conference in the Dominican Republic on June 12.

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Costa Rica has made its 1,000-colón note (each worth about $1.76 in U.S. funds) with a plastic substrate since 2011, using CCL’s Guardian material. The bank’s treasurer, Marvin Alvarade, said that because of the high rate of counterfeiting found among Costa Rica’s cotton-based notes, the lower rate for the polymer one was one factor in the decision.

Other factors were the country’s humid climate and the environment, since polymer is far more resistant to water than cotton and still is fully recyclable. Also, CCL says, polymer notes last four time longer than cotton notes. Since the change to the 1,000-colón note in 2011, the bank has saved about $15 million on just that one note.

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