The Benefits Of Guardian Polymer Banknotes

Since the first Guardian polymer banknotes were launched in 1988, the benefits have been recognised around the world. Put simply, polymer banknotes are more secure (much harder to counterfeit), more hygienic to use, and have less of an environmental impact than paper notes. They’re also more durable, which means they need to be replaced less often.


Polymer banknotes are much stronger and last a lot longer than paper notes. When the Bank of England was transitioning to polymer, research[1] showed that a polymer banknote will be in circulation from 3.8 to 6 times longer than paper. Greater durability means that, over time, the cost of managing the cash cycle is reduced. In its first 25 years of using Guardian banknotes, the Reserve Bank of Australia [2] saved A$1 billion in inflation-adjusted terms.


Guardian is inherently extremely difficult to counterfeit. The core Clarity™ C film is manufactured using a unique ‘bubble’ process in an 8 storey manufacturing plant; technology that is impossible to replicate easily. The film is then printed using CCL Secure’s proprietary processes to create a highly secure substrate.  In some instances[3] where polymer has replaced paper notes, the proportion of counterfeit notes in circulation has dropped from as high as 30ppm to virtually zero [9]. In addition, Guardian can incorporate numerous levels of security[4] that are extremely challenging to counterfeit and which simply cannot be achieved in paper notes. As a result, polymer banknotes achieve high approval ratings[5] from consumers and retailers.


By their nature Guardian polymer banknotes are cleaner. The surface on paper notes is porous, textured and is easily polluted. In polymer banknotes, the surface is smoother and non-absorbent. Scientists at Harper Adams University found that common bacteria are much less likely[6] to stick to plastic banknotes than paper banknotes.


Not all plastic is bad. A Life Cycle Assessment carried out in 2018 for the Bank of Mexico found that the production and distribution of polymer banknotes resulted in a 48.8% reduction in greenhouse gases[7], compared to paper bank notes. In addition, polymer banknotes can be easily recycled and repurposed. The Reserve Bank of Australia lists[8] building components, plumbing fittings, compost bins and other household and industrial products amongst the items that can be made from recycled notes.

[1] Bank of England, 2013, Polymer Banknotes: Durable and Clean, Pg. 1
[2] Reserve Bank of Australia, 12th December 2019, A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Polymer Banknotes, [online], Available at:
[3] Banco de Espana, Billetaria, April 2009, The use of polymer in the banknotes of the Banco de México, Pg. 7
[4] CCL Secure, 2020, Security Features, [online], Available at:
[5] Banco de Espana, Billetaria, April 2009, New Zealand’s experience with polymer banknotes, Pg. 13
[7] Reserve Bank of Australia, 2020, Recycling, [online], Available at:
[8] Bank of England, 2013, Polymer Banknotes: Durable and Clean, Pg. 1
[9] Bank of Canada, 2017, Substrate Choice: Security, Durability, Acceptability, Economy and Environment


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