December 20, 2013 – Paper or Plastic? Britain Joining Currency Trend: It took only 900 years, but paper money is fading away. Pictured above, an Australian 10-dollar bill.
As a new technology, plastic bank notes, becomes more popular around the world, people will have to get used to money that is slipperier but less grimy and harder to fold into origami cranes but more likely to survive washing machines.
The decline of one of the world’s greatest inventions gained momentum on Wednesday when Britain announced that the British pound, a reserve currency that has been printed on cotton-based paper for 300 years, will be made from plastic. Britain is the latest nation to replace paper bills — starting with the £5 and £10 notes — with plastic ones. Canada and Australia have already made the switch, as have about two dozen other countries.
Others, although not the United States, are expected to follow suit. The reason is simple enough: Plastic — or polymer, as it is called — holds up better than paper. It is also a lot harder to counterfeit.
Governments worry about such things, with good reason. But that is not what people who must now use polymer bills are concerned about. When Canada began introducing polymer notes in 2011, people grumbled about their slipperiness and their foldability. They thought the plastic bills would melt on hot radiators or car dashboards. Some people convinced themselves that the notes were infused with a maple syrup scent, a notion that the Bank of Canada dismisses.
“One of the more improbable urban myths was that the intense heat in Canada caused the notes to melt,” Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and previously governor of the Bank of Canada, said at a news conference on Wednesday announcing the notes. “I can assure you that wasn’t the case. Nor has the intense cold in Canada caused them to malfunction.”
If a car interior got hot enough to melt a bill — that would be 284 degrees Fahrenheit, or 140 degrees Celsius — the car’s interior plastics would begin to sag like a Salvador Dalí watch. Polymer bills can withstand temperatures as low as minus 103 Fahrenheit (minus 75 Celsius), said Richard Wall, the director of currency at the Bank of Canada. Click on the link below for the complete story:
The Master of Disaster