Aussie vegans up in arms over tallow in banknotes

An alarmist video recently posted to Facebook by the social activist group Project Nightfall highlights the use of tallow in the banknotes of 24 countries, including Canada.

The video, which has garnered more than 630,000 views, 5,000 shares and 800 comments since being uploaded on Oct. 20, warns it “is not friendly to vegans, Muslims, Hindus or Jews.”

As covered by CCN in December 2016, a representative of the Bank of Canada confirmed all of Canada’s polymer bills contained “literally minute” amounts of tallow.

This polymer, which is found in virtually all of the plastic currency around the world, is produced by an Australian company, Innovia Security. Its substrate is used for the polymer currency of 24 countries around the world.

In a statement to the CBC in 2016, a representative from Canada’s central bank said: “Our supplier of polymer substrate, Innovia Security, has confirmed that it’s polymer substrate used as a base for bank notes contains additives that may be produced from tallow. These additives help with the polymer manufacturing process, similar to many commercially available plastics materials. These additives would represent substantially less than 1 per cent of the total weight of the substrate.”

Canada is one of 24 countries around the world that use tallow in their polymer banknotes.

WIDESPREAD USE

Tallow is widely used in common household items—soap, candles, plastic bags and moisturizers to name but a few—as well as some airplane fuel and mobile phones.

Contrasting the video’s claim tallow is “not friendly … to Jews,” some commenters from the Jewish faith explained although they are forbidden from eating pork, they can touch it and use it.

“It being in money is not a problem at all,” wrote one user on the Facebook video.

‘ABSOLUTELY STUPID’

“It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid,” said polymer chemist and professor David Solomon, who led the CSIRO team that invented the polymer substrate, on 2GB radio in 2016.

“There’s trivial amounts of it in there,” said Solomon, who added it’s “more hygienic than a paper note by a long way.”

“It picks up less drugs than paper notes and you don’t chop down trees,” he added.

Change.org petition created shortly after the initial discover quickly reached about 130,000 supporters.

“The new STG5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK,” reads the petition. “We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use.”

FAR-REACHING PETITION

In February of last year, the Bank of England said it would test alternatives such as palm and coconut oil. There were plans to delay signing contracts for its first plastic £20 note, which is slated to enter circulation in 2020, until the bank could determine whether a polymer banknote without animal fat is viable.

“Given the public interest in banknotes, and the complex issues involved, the Bank is seeking further opinions on the use of animal-derived products and plant-based alternatives before making any decisions on the polymer used in future production runs of £5 and £10 polymer notes and the new £20 polymer note,” reads a statement issued by the bank.

After last year’s public consultation, the Bank of England announced it will continue using trace amounts of animal fat in the production of its polymer banknotes, claiming it would cost about £80 million to revert back to paper money.

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