Petition to scrap £5 note in Britain over animal fat content attracts 18,000 signatures

Thousands of people have signed a petition objecting against the use of animal fats in the manufacture of Britain's new plastic five-pound notes.
 Bank of England governor Mark Carney poses with a new polymer five pound note in September 2016.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney poses with a new polymer five pound note in September 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

Vegetarians and vegans in Britain are calling for the country's new £5 notes to be scrapped because they contain a derivative of animal fat.

The polymer notes, introduced earlier this year, contain tallow,  a rendered form of beef or mutton fat.

A petition at change.org to have the notes scrapped has so far garnered over 18, 000 signatures.

The issue was revealed when the Bank of England responded to tweets on Tuesday (Nov 29) asking if the polymer note, which was introduced earlier this year, contains tallow, said the Huffington Post.

The Bank replied that there is "a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the polymer £5 notes".

The reply has received a backlash online.

The change.org petition says: “The new £5 notes contain animal fat in the form of tallow. This is unacceptable to millions of vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the UK. We demand that you cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use.”

Signatories labelled the bank notes "disgusting, "unnecessary" and "unethical".

Many expressed concern at the potential exploitation of animals.

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Some were a little more sanguine.

The new note is considered to be cleaner, safer and stronger than paper notes, lasting around five years longer.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said of the new note: “The use of polymer means it can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up inside pockets and can also survive a spin in the washing machine.

“We expect polymer notes to last at least two and-a-half times longer than the current generation of fivers and therefore reduce future costs of production.”

According to Britain's Independent, a Bank of England spokesman confirmed on Tuesday (Nov 29) that the new plastic notes do contain tallow derived from animal fat but did not give any further details about which animals the note came from or how the notes are produced.

“We can confirm that the polymer pellet from which the base substrate is made contains a trace of a substance known as tallow. Tallow is derived from animal fats (suet) and is a substance that is also widely used in the manufacture of candles and soap,” the spokesman told the Independent.

The site also said on Tuesday that Innovia, the producer of the new £5, declined to answer any questions about the make-up of the notes or how the animal fat contained in them was produced.

According to the company's website, its "Guardian" banknote accounts for more than 99 per cent of polymer banknotes found in the market today and there are more than 20 billion Guardian notes currently in circulation.

Nearly 50 billion Guardian notes have been printed since they were first introduced to the market in 1988, it says.

Guardian is currently used in 24 countries worldwide including Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.