Protests notwithstanding, £5 ‘Non-veg’ notes will stay in circulation: Bank of England

Vegans and Hindu organisations in UK had demanded withdrawal of the £ 5 notes printed on a polymer containing some animal fat instead of paper

The new notes were introduced in September 2016 and will not be scrapped Credit: Stefan Wermuth/PA Wire

The Bank of England has declared that the objection of vegans and some religious notwithstanding, the waterproof and wrinkle-resistant £ 5 notes printed on polymer instead of paper put in circulation last September will not be withdrawn.

The demand for pulling these notes out of circulation: was based on the fact that the polymer used to print the notes contains a small amount of tallow (animal fat, usually of beef or mutton).

The central bank’s reason for not withdrawing: Over £ 46 million has already been spent on introducing the new notes. Besides, reprinting the notes if withdrawn will cost the exchequer another £ 46 million. Besides, withdrawing the notes will cause a lot of hardship to citizens, disruption and additional expense for supermarkets and shopkeepers who have adapted their machines to use the polymer notes and may have to be re-engineered to go back to paper.

The bank has further stated that it is also too late to pull back on the £ 10 polymer notes proposed to be introduced in September this year as 275 million of them have already been printed.

Interestingly, the £ 10 notes will bear the image of the popular 18th century British novelist, Jane Austen in deference to complaints that British currency failed to honour important women from the nation’s history and public life.

The bank however has promised to look into the possibility of using palm or coconut oil instead of tallow while printing £ 20 polymer notes scheduled to be introduced in 2020.

PTI reports that UK’s National Council of Hindus had said in a statement last year that the new note “ceases to be a simple medium of exchange but becomes a medium for communicating pain and suffering and we would not want to come into contact with it”.

The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB), an umbrella body of Hindu organizations, had campaigned for people to sign a petition to withdraw the notes and avoid its use in donations. The petition, “Remove tallow from bank notes” had attracted 100,000 signatures.



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