Bank of England not to withdraw plastic 5 banknotes

17 February 2017

The Bank of England had decided to not withdraw plastic 5 banknotes from circulation, despite protests from vegans, animal rights activists and religious groups because over trace amounts of animal fat content.

The Bank would also push ahead with production of the new 10 polymer note featuring Jane Austen, which would be issued in September. The bank had spent 70m million on making the two plastic banknotes so far.

It said, ''Withdrawing 5 polymer banknotes and stopping production of 10 polymer banknotes would have significant implications for the Bank's anti-counterfeiting strategy and threaten continuity of supply of banknotes to the public. It would carry environmental risks and impose significant financial costs on the Bank, and thereby the taxpayer, and on the cash industry.''

The new plastic 5 banknotes last November, created a controversy after it emerged that they contained tallow, an animal byproduct of beef or mutton fat.

A petition which called on the bank to stop using the substance in its banknotes attracted nearly 135,000 signatures. It claimed the use of animal fat was ''unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK'' (See: Bank of England moves to make 5 note vegetarian). The Bank of England confirmed that an "extremely small amount" of tallow was used to produce polymer pellets, which were then used to create the material for the 5 note.

The Bank of England said although the new notes were more expensive to print than the paper notes, in the long run the polymer ones were better value for money and lasted on average two and a half times longer.

They were also 15 per cent smaller than the paper 5.

Polymer notes were in circulation in over 30 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore and Canada.

The 5 note also featured words spoken by Churchill in his first speech to the new administration in 1940: ''I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.''

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