UK Set to Print Plastic Money; Will the US Be Far Behind?

Dylan Brown, Staff Reporter

Britain seems to be trying to solve the “first world issue” of money going through the washing machine. Britain has decided to start issuing plastic currency. This plastic money will eventually replace their current paper currency.

The move to switch seems to be a completely democratic process. The British central bank took a poll and after great support for the movement, they decided to change their currency.

The Bank of England is going to start the transfer process in 2016. They are starting with the Sir Winston Churchill £5 note. England will be following Canada, which is also starting to issue plastic notes, and Australia, where plastic notes have been in circulation for decades.

Many people question the environmental impact of printing on plastic. The bank claims that the plastic notes will last six times longer than the current notes.  Therefore it is thought that the move will save the bank a total of £100 million in printing costs.

These plastic notes only shrink and melt at around 120 degrees celsius (i.e., more than the temperature  required to boil water). This means they would stand up much better in the washing machine. The plastic notes are also supposedly more difficult for forgers to counterfeit.

A problem some people have with plastic notes, is that they won’t be able to fold as regular notes can, which means a lot of people will need new wallets–they aren’t called “billfolds” for nothing. Also some people critical of the move believe that manufacturing notes out of plastic may be more harmful to our environment then the paper notes, as they rely on fossil fuels to make plastic, and are not as easily recycled as paper bills.

This reporter has had the personal experience of having accidentally ripped bills and having washed them in the dryer with blue jeans, which stained them a dark blue. This plastic money could be a thing of the future.