Many items over the years have been converted from less efficient materials to plastic for a number of reasons including: cost, efficiency and durability. Money is the latest item to make the switch. I know what you are thinking, debit cards and credit cards have been around for quite a while, but I am not talking about plastic cards. I’m talking about actual polymer banknotes, paper money being changed to plastic!
If you have recently gone to Canada or Mexico, you may already be familiarly with plastic currency. There are 20 countries so far that have switched from paper to plastic. Great Britain has plans to join the conversion in 2016. Great Britain will be rolling out 5 pound bills printed on polymer instead of paper.
There are some obvious advantages of plastic versus paper . The first advantage is that plastic lasts longer. In Great Britain, paper money, on average, lasts around 6 months. Plastic bills will last an average of 2.5 years. The durability of plastic over paper is a major advantage. The polymer banknote can survive the washing machine, rain storms and coffee spills without getting destroyed or even stained. Gone are the days of vending machines refusing your dollar bill! Other advantages to these bills lasting 4 times longer is the decrease in production costs and pollution. The polymer banknotes can even be recycled after they are worn beyond use.
While these benefits alone seem to tip the scale in favor of plastic, the real reason many countries are choosing to switch to polymer banknotes is security. The new polymer banknotes are extremely difficult to counterfeit. Canada’s banknotes have added features including a transparent section of the banknote containing color-shifting historically significant graphics, metallic details and a maple leaf made out of a series of numbers. These features have successfully decreased counterfeit money in Canada. It is for this reason that the Bank of England decide to begin manufacturing polymer banknotes. Despite the obvious benefits, the United States currently has no plans to change their paper money over to polymer banknotes.