Despite thousands of complaints from vegans and religious groups, the Bank of England have announced that the plastic bank notes will continue to be made with traces of animal fat as they deemed the alternatives to be an environmental risk.
In 2016, The Bank of England launched its first polymer banknotes which it said were more durable and harder to fake, but it was soon discovered that these notes contained tallow derived from animal fat, which is problematic for vegans and religious groups who avoid using or consuming products containing animal ingredients. Some Hindu temples and vegetarian cafes even refused to accept the new five pound note to take a stance against this decision.
More than 130,000 people signed an online petition started by Doug Maw calling on the BoE to stop using animal products, which prompted the central bank to launch a consultation into suitable alternatives for the £20 and £10 notes.
After looking into alternatives, they felt that the only alternative for its polymer banknotes was to use more expensive chemicals derived from palm oil or coconut oil. However, this decision was also met with resistance thanks to the environmental impact of palm oil, which was responsible for 8% of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008.
In its statement at the time, the Bank of England said it was committed to using sustainable levels of palm oil, should that eventually be chosen for the new notes.
The BoE has now said that its suppliers were unable to commit to that in an environmentally friendly (or affordable) way, and so they would be keeping tallow as an ingredient in the new notes.
“The Bank fully recognises the concerns raised by members of the public … and has not taken this decision lightly,” it said on Thursday.
Doug Maw, who started the original petition to remove animal parts from bank notes, has responded to the BoE’s decision to continue using animal parts. Doug said, “The Bank of England are supposed to represent all of the British public. Their decision to continue using animal parts in the manufacture of polymer notes shows this to be untrue. 140,000 people signed by petition via Change.org and 88% of respondents to the Bank’s own consultation wanted animal parts removing, a process the Bank acknowledge they can do. The largest economy in the world (the USA) don’t use animal parts in their money so why should we?
“The Bank continue to conflate this with the use of animal derived ingredients in other products in their statement. What they wantonly ignore is that NONE of those products are compulsory and there are vegan alternatives to every example they gave. By only having bank notes containing animal parts they are forcing vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others to handle products that directly conflict with their deeply held belief and practices.”
Doug will be holding a demonstration outside the Bank of England at noon on 14 September (the day the new £10 goes into circulation) to show that opposition continues.