Paper Money

Tallow to remain in Bank of England notes

The Bank of England will continue to use a polymer substrate for its bank notes like the new £10 Jane Austen note. Officials were unable to find a sustainable substitute.

Images courtesy of and copyright by Bank of England.

The Bank of England said on Aug. 10 that it will not change the chemical composition of the polymer in its bank notes, meaning they will continue to contain trace elements (less than 0.05 percent) of tallow, an animal-derived byproduct. The bank determined that the only alternative to tallow would be palm oil derivatives. The decision affects the £5, £10, and upcoming £20 notes.

The announcement is a blow to animal-rights activists and some religious groups and came after public consultation and official analysis. Despite the public outcry, the Bank of England received only 3,554 responses to the consultation, 3,010 of them were against tallow and 1,472 were against palm oil derivatives. A total 1,103 respondents said they were against both. 

1808-quarter-eagle-1793-chain-cent-leadThe September 2017 cover feature explores “one-year wonders,” designs that lasted just a year or less, many of which are now coveted delicacies. Other topics include how to value unique collectibles, and an outline of the history of what "paper money" is printed on, from mulberry bark to plastics.

Factors affecting the determination included fears over the lack of environmentally sustainable palm oil substitutes; the position of the Bank’s “Central Bank peers”; the additional public cost of switching, estimated to be £16.5 million, or $21.5 million, over 10 years; and the accepted use of similar plastics in other everyday products, including other payment methods.

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The bank maintains that polymer has important benefits compared to paper, including security features, strength, durability, a lower carbon footprint, and more value for the money for taxpayers.

The 23 page decision document can be read here

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