currency

Paper no more: Britain proposes plastic pounds

Sep. 10, 2013 at 1:42 PM ET

A sample the proposed new British banknotes made of a polymer, five pound and ten pound notes held for an arranged photograph during a news conference...
Chris Ratcliffe / AP
The proposed new British banknotes is made of a polymer, five pound and ten pound notes.

Britain is pondering plastic pounds.

The Bank of England is considering replacing paper money with polymer bank notes which are billed as cleaner, stronger and more secure.

The bank said Tuesday it will hold a public consultation, bringing samples of plastic money to shopping centers so that the public can feel the difference.

Polymer bank notes — made from transparent plastic film coated with layers of ink — are used by countries such as Australia, Mexico and Canada.

Proponents say they are longer-lasting and harder to forge than paper notes. But critics say the bills are slippery, stick together and do not fold as easily as paper.

A British decision is due by December. If the plan is approved, plastic five-pound notes could be in circulation by 2016.

American bills are considered fabric, made from one part linen and three parts cotton fiber paper. Although green, the currency contains some patriotic elements: Red and blue synthetic fibers are evenly distributed throughout, according to the Federal Reserve.  

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