Paper Money

European Central Bank studies carbon footprint of its notes

Distribution contributed the greatest environmental impact in the euro note’s use cycle. While low compared to the impact of many other common activities, officials are seeking to reduce the impact.

Image courtesy of European Central Bank.

The environmental footprint of a person’s yearly use of euro notes is equivalent to driving a car 4.97 miles, or 0.01% of the total environmental impact of a European’s annual consumption activities. That was the conclusion of a 32-page study on the environmental impact of euro bank notes published by the European Central Bank on Dec.11.

The report says the environmental aspects of euro notes and the cash cycle have been a priority since the launch of the euro in 2002 and that efforts will continue to reduce the environmental impact of notes.

The report considers the full cash cycle of bank notes from raw material acquisition and manufacturing to the disposal of the notes. It also measured the potential environmental impact of bank notes as a payment instrument and helps identify stages in the bank note life cycle that can be targeted to reduce the environmental footprint.

The full report and a condensed executive summary can be found at the website

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