Bank of England rebuffs calls for changes to its polymer notes

The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney during the unveiling at Winchester Cathedral of the new £10 note featuring Jane Austen

On Aug. 10, the London-based financial institution said it will stick with the existing polymer film blend for its new plastic banknotes, rejecting calls from some vegetarians in the United Kingdom to turn away from a film that uses a very small amount of material from rendered animal fat.

The central bank reviewed the make-up of its new plastic notes after thousands of people signed a petition calling on it to end the use of animal-derived products.

On Thursday, the Bank of England, which prints bills circulated in England and Wales, said that it would continue to use the polymer for the 5-pound note, worth about $6.50, introduced previous year, as well as the £10 bill that debuts in September and the £20 note that will enter circulation by 2020.

Britain's planned new polymer 20-pound and its 10-pound notes, which will be launched in September, are also affected by Thursday's announcement.

The Bank of England doesn't consider palm oil to be a viable alternative.

In a statement, the Bank of England says: "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".

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But the Bank said it had to balance this "against its other public duties and priorities" and other evidence it had gathered.

HM Treasury advised the Bank that it does not believe switching to palm oil derivatives would achieve value for money for taxpayers.

On the plus side, the polymer notes last substantially longer than the paper versions, meaning fewer have to be made and so the environmental cost is lower overall.

"The Bank's suppliers have been unable to commit to sourcing the highest level of sustainable palm oil at this time".

It adds that the amount of animal products in the notes is "typically less than 0.05%".

The council, which had welcomed the Bank of England's public consultation on the matter, is yet to respond on the latest development on polymer notes.