Canada’s polymer banknotes contain tallow

After a seemingly innocent tweet by the Bank of England last week, more than 20 countries, including Canada, have learned their polymer banknotes contain “literally minute” amounts of animal by-products.

On Nov. 28, in a tweet to British vegan Steffi Rox, the U.K.’s central bank confirmed “there is a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes”. And it’s true: the notes contain trace amounts of tallow, which is a hard, fatty substance made from animal fat.

According to a recent report by National Post, on Nov. 30, 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, including Canada.

In a statement to the CBC,  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.”


“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.

“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.

A petition has reached nearly 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.”


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