Published 18.07.16 

Updated 01.07.19 

Notes Going Forward

Polymer bank notes have been with us now since Q3 of 2016, with the latest £20 being introduced in the coming months. Below is a breakdown of the reasons why the Bank of England have chosen to go onto plastic notes...

Polymer banknotes are:

  • Cleaner: polymer banknotes are more resistant to dirt and moisture, so they stay cleaner for longer than paper banknotes.
  • Safer: the polymer material allows us to include enhanced security features, which make polymer banknotes harder to counterfeit.
  • Stronger: improving the quality of banknotes in circulation. Polymer banknotes last longer, so they are more environmentally friendly than paper banknotes.

The waste from old polymer banknotes is turned into pellets before being transformed into new plastic items, such as plant pots. So far, the Bank of England have issued a polymer £5 note and a new polymer £10 note. The next £20 note will also be made of polymer. It will be issued on 20 February 2020. The Bank of England also expect to issue a £50 polymer note by the end of 2021. This will feature the scientist Alan Turing. 

Polymer banknotes are actually more environmentally friendly than paper due to their durability. The Carbon Trust has certified that over their full life cycle, the carbon footprint of a £5 polymer banknote is 16% lower than the £5 paper banknote, while the carbon footprint of a £10 polymer banknote is 8% lower than the £10 paper banknote. This certification was completed in accordance to the international standard PAS 2050, looking at the full life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions related to the banknotes, including from their production, use in circulation and final disposal.


NOTE: Please always bare in mind that withdrawn bank notes, and other denominations like the old £1 may no longer be legal tender for the public to accept. However the banks are different, and can and will always accept old pound sterling denominations

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