THE BANK of England has 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.
This decision reflects multiple considerations including the concerns raised by the public, the availability of environmentally sustainable alternatives, and value for money, as well as the widespread use of animal-derived additives in everyday products, including alternative payment methods. In reaching its decision, the Bank has also taken account of its obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
The only currently viable alternative for polymer banknotes is to use chemicals ultimately derived from palm oil. In order to seek the public’s views on both these options, the Bank ran a full public consultation which set out a range of relevant information. The Bank has also conducted outreach meetings with representatives of potentially impacted groups, commissioned technical trials, held commercial discussions and commissioned independent environmental research.
3,554 people responded to the consultation. Of those who expressed a preference, 88 per cent were against the use of animal-derived additives and 48 per cent were against the use of palm oil-derived additives. The Bank has had to balance these responses against its other public duties and priorities as well as the other evidence gathered over the past months. The use of palm oil raises questions about environmental sustainability and the Bank’s suppliers have been unable to commit to sourcing the highest level of sustainable palm oil at this time.
The Bank fully recognises the concerns raised by members of the public, both prior to and during the consultation, and has not taken this decision lightly.