Following a three year research programme and a public consultation during autumn 2013, the Bank of England has decided that its next £5, £10, £20 and £50 banknotes will be printed on polymer.
The £5 were issued in 2016 and the £10 note in September 2021. The £20 notes were in circulation during 2020 and the £50 was be isued in June 2021. The new notes will be smaller (by around 15%).
The results show that, for £5, £10 and £20 bank notes, most indicators are dominated by impacts associated with electricity generation required to operate ATMs and Banknote Sorters. This is particularly noticeable for £10 and £20 notes where a very high proportion of bank notes are sent to ATMs after sorting (91% and 90% respectively). For £5 notes the proportion sent to ATMs is lower at 64%, but this is still sufficient for the impact of ATMs to be the largest contributor to many indicators.
The Bank’s research has shown considerable benefits in polymer banknotes, they are cleaner, more secure, and more durable than paper banknotes. They will provide enhanced counterfeit resilience, and increase the quality of banknotes in circulation. Polymer notes are also more environmentally friendly than paper and, because they last longer are, over time, cheaper than paper banknotes.