Since the release of the new £5 polymer notes, vegans throughout the UK have been in uproar since it was discovered that they were being made with traces of animal fat. Despite these objections, the Bank of England is planning the release of £10 notes in September 2017 with the same materials.
The issuer said that it ‘recognises the concerns’ raised about the discovery of tallow (rendered animal fat) in the £5 polymer notes. However, they have already invested £46million printing the new £5 notes, as well as £24million printing 275 million new £10 notes.
It was revealed back in November 2016 that tallow had been used in production of the new fiver, but reprinting on a new substrate would mean incurring a cost of £70million. Before production had taken place, the Bank had signed an agreement but was not aware of the presence of animal-derived products.
A petition was started last year, after the Bank came clean, which stated, ‘The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the U.K.
‘We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use.’ It has since attracted over 135,000 signatures.
What is tallow and why is it in bank notes?
Tallow is a substance that comes from animal fat and also referred to as suet. The most common tallow comes from beef but fat can be rendered from deer, sheep, bear and other animals.
It is commonly used in cooking (frying and baking), as a lubricant, as a biofuel, for candle making and also skin care. However, there are also traces of it in the polymer the Bank of England has used to make the new £5 banknotes.
The polymer has been supplied by Innovia Security – one of two companies worldwide who produce it for bank notes. Innovia’s Guardian substrate accounts for more than 99 per cent of polymer banknotes found in the market today across 24 countries.
Tallow is believed to be used as a source of stearic acid, which acts as a lubricant and neutralises trace additives in the notes. There are vegetarian alternatives, although these are likely to be more expensive.
Credit: This Is Money
The £10 note which features Jane Austen will be launched in September – and 275m have already been printed.
The Bank of England said: ‘Producing banknotes is complicated. A variety of processes are required to manufacture a secure note of the highest quality, and the lead times involved are therefore significant. The Bank works hard to ensure that the public has enough secure notes to use in daily life and destroying the hundreds of millions of notes already printed would put this at risk. The Bank cannot guarantee sufficient stocks of paper notes to replace the destroyed polymer notes.’
It’s worth noting that any old £5 notes you have in your possession will either need to be exchanged or used by 5 May 2017.