Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Safer, Cheaper, Greener: Plastic Money


Just this week the Canadian government unveiled its new, plastic-based $100 bills which will hit consumers’ wallets by November. The Bank of Canada will start issuing high-tech currency derived from polypropylene resin instead of the traditional cotton paper. The new bills will be the same size and color as current Canadian bills.

But what are the benefits? Well for one, the plastic currency will be lighter, thinner, more durable and is expected to last 2.5 times longer than its paper predecessors. Their lighter weight also will cut transportation costs. In addition, the Bank of Canada intends to recycle them when they wear out, providing another environmental benefit. Their resistance to crinkling and becoming limp like paper bills will make the new notes easier and more efficient to process. For example, they won’t be rejected by vending machines because of bent corners, and they will stack neatly for counting machines.

From a security standpoint the plastic bills will be much more difficult to counterfeit. Between 2001 and 2004 a rash of counterfeiting increased the number of counterfeit bills in Canada to 470 per million, which resulted in making the country one of the worst in the world for the circulation of funny money. The new plastic bills will include holographic images in the bill’s large window (such as one in the shape of a maple leaf in good Canadian fashion). The plastic bills also will feature raised ink, hidden numbers and metallic images printed on a transparent window.

Once the $100 bills are out, the $50 bills are expected to circulate by March 2012 followed by the more common, $20, $10, and $5 bills which are expected to circulate by the end of 2013. The Bank of Canada’s Governor Mark Carney has said that these new plastic banknotes are “safer, cheaper, greener.” Right on the money, Governor! I couldn’t agree more – plastics to the rescue again!

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