The Bank of England has issued a statement confirming that it will continue to use polymer banknotes that contain tallow, a substance made from animal fat, until an alternative can be sourced.
The polymer New Fiver banknote was issued by the Bank of England in September last year, but news that it contained trace elements of tallow – an animal based product used in many products such as soap and candles – came to light two months later sparking controversy. Opponents voiced their objections to the use of animal products in their currency, including vegetarians, vegans and religious communities. A petition containing 130 thousand signatures gathered within one week was delivered to the Bank of England demanding that they cease using animal products.
At the time, the Bank of England issued a statement confirming that they had not been aware of the use of tallow within the polymer substrate material, and that an alternative solution was being sought.
The Bank has now confirmed that they have concluded their initial analysis which has resulted in their decision to continue using polymer banknotes that contain tallow.
“the Bank has now concluded that it would be appropriate to keep the £5 polymer note in circulation and to issue the £10 polymer note as planned, in September. In reaching its decision, the Bank has given careful consideration to the possible alternative options for the current £5 note and the Jane Austen £10 polymer note. In doing so, the Bank has considered: its responsibility to issue and maintain the supply of high quality and secure banknotes, its obligations under the Equality Act 2010, the concerns raised about the use of animal-derived products, the impact of any changes on firms that process and handle cash, the potential impact on our suppliers, and value for money for the taxpayer.”
It advised that £46 million had been spent on printing the £5 note already in circulation, and £24 million had been spent printing 275 million of the new £10 note in preparation for its release in September 2017.
The Bank is to launch a consultation on 30 March 2017 about the content of polymer substrate to be used in future banknotes, which includes the new £20 note expected in 2020. Consequently, it has delayed signing contracts for the supply of materials for the £20 banknote until a decision has been reached on how it will proceed.
Read the Bank of England’s full statement.