A Little Tallow with that Cash?

The Bank of England’s new five-pound note is made of thin, flexible plastic…and tallow. When asked on its Twitter account back in November, the bank confirmed a trace of tallow from animal fat is in the new polymer five-pound note. The same polymer is used in New Zealand’s new banknote and “may” also be in Canada’s new money, so said the Bank of England. The supplier of the polymer substrate for both countries’ banknotes, Innovia Security, verified a “trace amount of tallow” (about one percent of the additive, according to the bank) is in the polymer to assist with manufacturing and processing. The new note features a portrait of Winston Churchill and is favored for its durability, water resistance, and difficulty to counterfeit. It will replace the old paper notes that will be removed from circulation in May 2017.

Yet, not everyone is happy, notably vegans and vegetarians. As of mid-January, over 130,000 electronic signatures were received in an online petition asking for tallow to be removed from the notes. However, comments to an article that appeared on the New Zealand Business Day website overwhelmingly support the additive. The Bank of England, which had printed 440 million new five-pound notes as of November 2016, has not announced plans to change the makeup of its bills.

Alan Sentman, a chemist at Polymer Solutions, told The Washington Post that small beads of tallow are likely used to help the currency feed smoothly through machines. He said the bank could produce the notes with a vegetable alternative but that it is a bit cheaper with animal fat.

February 2017 RENDER | back