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Why is Britain Moving to Plastic Banknotes?

Posted on 7th June 2016

Last week, the design for the new five-pound note was unveiled at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of the man who is to grace its reverse side: former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. The note will be the first British banknote to be printed on polymer, a thin sheet of plastic.


The Advantages of Plastic Banknotes


Banknotes issued by the Bank of England have been printed on cotton paper since their introduction in 1694. The problem with paper notes is that they quickly degrade. The lifespan of the average five pound note is about 18 months to two years. When they become too worn, the bank withdraws banknotes from circulation and prints new ones. The new plastic notes are expected to have a lifespan of five years, which will reduce printing costs.


The increased durability of plastic banknotes comes with other benefits. The new notes will be very difficult to tear. They will be resistant to dirt and moisture, so if you spill your cup of coffee on one you will be able to wipe it clean with a damp cloth. They will even be resistant to going through a hot wash cycle in the back pocket of your jeans.


Furthermore, updating banknote designs is one method of staying ahead of counterfeit money. Polymer is a suitable material for printing optical variable devices; images that appear to move or change colour as you view them from different angle. These are extremely difficult to reproduce and allow the legitimate printers of money to stay one step ahead of the counterfeiters.


The History of Plastic Banknotes


The Isle of Man introduced the world's first plastic banknotes in 1983 but these had to be discontinued due to the ink rubbing off. Australia perfected the process of printing on polymer and since it went plastic in 1988, several countries in the area have followed suit and switched from paper to plastic. The sultanate of Brunei, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand all have plastic currencies now. Romania was the first European country to switch.


At Coda Plastics, we know that plastic is an extremely useful and versatile material. If your business could benefit from a knowledgeable plastic manufacturers, don't hesitate to get in touch by calling us on +44 1692 501020.


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