The Bank of England, one of the oldest institutions to print and circulate money in paper form, plans to print two of its notes on polymer. From 2016, the two denominations most likely to end up in trouser pockets and therefore either scrunched up or forgotten in washing machines, the 5-pound "Winston Churchill" and the new 10-pound "Jane Austen" could be printed on a new medium.
The United Kingdom would not be the first to replace paper with a stronger material: around thirty countries have already opted for plastic bank notes, including Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Vietnam, and most recently Canada.
These plastic notes would be more hygienic, impossible to tear and, according to the Daily Mail, could withstand a 90-degree washing cycle. They would also offer considerable guarantees in terms of security: the highly secure notes would make duplication virtually impossible.
Although more expensive to produce than paper, the polymer notes, by virtue of their durability, strength and low maintenance, would save the Bank of England around 100 million pounds (almost 120 million Euros): a plastic note would have a lifespan of six years compared to the two years currently expected for paper notes. And the icing on the cake is that the notes would also be recyclable!
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