The Bank of England will continue to use its new notes that contain traces of tallow made from Beef fat and some other animal fat. There have been objections to this from vegetarian and religious groups, including Hindus, in the country.
According to reports, the central bank had launched a public consultation on the material following protests, including by Hindu groups – some of whom had banned the new notes from UK temples.
However, its report into the consultation has concluded that alternatives to the polymer notes, such as palm oil, were not viable and also more expensive.
“The use of palm oil raises questions about environmental sustainability and the Bank’s suppliers have been unable to commit to sourcing the highest level of sustainable palm oil at this time. Value for money was also a consideration in the Bank’s decision,” the bank said in a statement.
The additional cost of switching to a new type of production would rise to about 16.5 million pounds over the next 10 years, according to the Bank of England.
The decision means that future production of the polymer 5-pound notes and 10-pound notes this year, as well as the 20 pounds to be launched in 2020, will remain unchanged.
“The bank fully recognises the concerns raised by members of the public, both prior to and during the consultation. The bank has had to balance these responses against its other public duties and priorities as well as the other evidence gathered over the past months,” the bank said.
Around 3,554 people had responded to its consultation, of which 88 per cent were against the use of animal-derived additives and 48 per cent were against the use of palm oilderived additives.
Polymer banknotes are used in more than 30 countries. It emerged during the bank’s research that plastic containing animal fat is also used in debit and credit cards, mobile phones, cosmetics, soaps, household detergent bottles and car parts.
“During our research and discussion with manufacturers and consultants, we were informed that animal-derived additives are used extensively in the many different types of plastics found in a wide range of household goods used on a regular basis, eg in cosmetics, plastic carrier bags, household detergent bottles, and car parts,” the report noted.
The polymer notes were chosen because they last substantially longer than paper versions, meaning fewer have to be made and the environmental cost is lower overall.