Winston Churchill £5 banknote on Guardian™ maps broader disruptive trend in security printing
6 June 2016
Leatherhead, United Kingdom - Security print market specialist Smithers Pira has reported that the Bank of England’s decision to print its new £5 banknote on a polymer substrate aligns with one of the most disruptive current trends in the sector across the next decade.
The number of countries worldwide using plastic banknotes is rising steadily, and has now been joined by the UK. Source: Smithers Pira.
With the UK set to be the 25th nation worldwide to adopt Guardian™ technology, Smithers market insight identified polymer substrate banknotes as the sixth most disruptive trend for the whole security printing industry.
The Smithers Pira report lists several key advantages of polymer substrate as follows:
- Durability: Polymer notes are more durable, harder to tear, and more resistant to folding, soiling, and micro-organisms. Furthermore, because of their relative rigidness, they tend to perform better in ATMs and automated sorting operations.
- Print costs: Polymer banknotes can last two-and-a-half to four times longer than notes printed on cotton paper. Thus, although analysis shows plastic currency is up to twice as expensive to produce, reductions in the need to replace notes will translate over time into significant savings for central banks. The Bank of England estimates cutting the frequency of replacements and new issues will save it around £100 million over the full lifecycle of its new notes.
- Defeating counterfeits: The production of Innovia’s Guardian™ substrate involves specialist equipment which blows the BOPP film in a gigantic bubble of plastic, 20 meters high, before reforming it. The complexity of this process and its relative unfamiliarity will make it much harder for criminals to copy the new Churchill £5. Canada – the first G8 country to adopt plastic substrates - saw a 74% reduction in reported counterfeits in 2015, the first full year after it made its switch.
- Cleanliness: Polymer banknotes stay cleaner and are waterproof, as the impermeable and non-fibrous nature of the plastic repels dirt and moisture better than paper.
- Recyclability: The environmental impact of polymer is lower than that of traditional paper. This was most recently demonstrated in two life cycle assessment (LCA) studies by the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada – and includes the option for 100% recyclability of used banknotes.
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