The Bank of England got some pushback when it decided to print new bank notes on polymer, which uses tallow — a hard, fatty substance usually made from rendered meat — rather than on the cotton-based paper that was used before.
LONDON — Britain’s new bank notes are harder to forge than their predecessors. They are also more durable, able to survive a washing-machine cycle. They can even be dipped in curry with no adverse effects.
None of that is much consolation to vegetarians, however — the notes are printed on polymer, which uses tallow, a hard, fatty substance usually made from rendered meat, rather than on the cotton-based paper that was used before.
On Thursday, the Bank of England, which prints bills circulated in England and Wales, said that it would continue to use the polymer for the 5-pound note, worth about $6.50, introduced last year, as well as the 10-pound bill that debuts in September and the 20-pound note that will enter circulation by 2020.
The bank said it had chosen the polymer notes for their durability and for their ability to incorporate new security features. After the polymer notes’ debut last year, the Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, dipped one of them in a curry to demonstrate their durability.
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The bank apparently did not anticipate the pushback on the use of a trace amount of animal products — typically less than 0.05 percent — in the notes.
An online petition to stop the use of tallow garnered more than 135,000 signatures.
The Bank of England explored alternatives in a monthslong consultation. About 3,500 people responded to the bank’s request for opinions on the use of animal products in its notes. Of those who expressed a preference, 88 percent were against the use of animal-derived additives, while 48 percent were against the use of additives derived from palm oil, which the bank had explored as a possible alternative to the tallow.
Despite the overwhelmingly negative response to the use of tallow, the Bank of England said it had to balance those concerns against its “other public duties and priorities.”
In part, the cost of switching would have been significant: about 16.5 million pounds over the course of the next decade, the bank said.