Cleaner, safer, stronger. These are the three key features that helped the Bank of England take the decision to issue its first polymer bank notes starting in September 2016.
The first will be five Pound notes bearing the portrait of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. A 10 Pound bank note bearing the portrait of writer Jane Austen will be put into circulation in Summer 2017, and will be followed by a 20 Pound bank note bearing the portrait of J.M.W Turner in 2020. The other side of the notes will bear the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
According to Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, "polymer is a major innovation: it is cleaner, safer and stronger". Reputed to be more hygienic, they can be recycled when they have become too damaged or worn. In addition, the bank notes are harder to fake, and their life expectancy is at least 2.5 times higher than that of paper notes, “they are therefore cheaper than paper bank notes”.
The bi-axially oriented Polypropylene films (BOPP) used in the bank notes are manufactured by the Innovia company based in the County of Cumbria in England.
The Bank of England joins the list of the 23 countries in the world already using this technology.