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Plastic banknotes by 2016?

Plastic banknotes by 2016?

Category: Banking

Updated: 27/11/2017
First Published: 11/09/2013

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

The Bank of England (BoE) is considering replacing the current cotton paper banknotes with ones made of polymer, a type of plastic.

It also plans to reduce the size of current banknotes by about 15%, which, it said, will bring the UK's banknotes more in line with foreign notes as well as make it easier for them to fit comfortably in people's wallets and purses.

But the bank said it will only make the changes if it receives public approval.

Over the next two months, the BoE is launching a series of public events in shopping centres across England and Wales, which will give people the opportunity to see and touch the new notes as well as voice their opinion on them.

The first of these events will be held next week in the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford and the Metrocentre in Gateshead.

For further details of an event near you, visit

The Bank's final decision will be announced in December, with a view to launch the new notes in 2016.

Key facts about polymer banknotes

• Polymer is more resistant to dirt and moisture, which means banknotes stay cleaner for longer.
• Polymer notes last at least 2.5 times longer than paper banknotes so will take much longer to become tatty, thus improving the quality of banknotes in circulation.
• Banknotes made of polymer are more secure as they are able to incorporate advanced security features that makes them difficult to counterfeit
• They are more environmentally friendly than their paper counterparts
• Polymer notes don't melt easily – temperatures have to reach 120°C for this to start happening.
• Euro notes are made of polymer.

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