The Bank of England has decided to stick to plastic banknotes despite complaints from vegans and religious groups that they contain tallow, an animal by-product.
The central bank concluded after “careful and serious consideration and extensive public consultation” that switching to palm oil alternatives would be costly and raise questions about environmental sustainability.
A row broke out over the use of animal fat in the new plastic £5 note last November, and a petition was launched calling for the use of tallow to be stopped.
The petition said the use of animal fat was “unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK”. Some Hindu temples in the UK banned the £5 note.
The decision means the new plastic £20 note and future print runs of £5 and £10 notes will be made from polymer, which typically contains less than 0.05% of animal fat.
Polymer banknotes are used in more than 30 countries. It emerged during the Bank’s research that plastic containing animal fat is also used in debit and credit cards, mobile phones, carrier bags, cosmetics, soaps, household detergent bottles and car parts.