The Bank of England has decided to keep using traces of tallow, a type of animal fat, in their new polymer banknotes, despite pressure and complaints from vegans and religious groups.
The bank considered using palm oil as an alternative to tallow; however, their final decision spoke otherwise. While they had “not taken this decision lightly,” they still concluded that using palm oil would be costly and would raise questions about environmental sustainability.
The use of tallow in British banknotes was first announced in late 2016, with the new £5 notes, which resulted in a riot on Twitter between vegans, vegetarians, animal rights groups and others. Hindus, Sikhs and Jains were also against the central bank’s decision. Some Hindu temples in the UK even banned the £5 notes, and someone even started a petition that had amassed over 100,000 signatures.
According to a document published by the Bank of England, “3,010 people (88% of those responding to the question) were against the use of animal-derived additives. 1,472 people (48% of those responding to the question) were against the use of palm oil derivatives. 1,103 people (31% of all people responding to the consultation) were against the use of both animal and palm oil-derived additives.”
The only other possible solution would be to use chemicals derived from palm oil, but the central bank’s suppliers were “unable to commit to sourcing the highest level of sustainable palm oil at this time.”
Cost was also an issue, as the bank had calculated that it would cost about £16.5M over the next ten years to switch, and would cost another £70M to reprint the £5 and £10 notes.
The bank also stressed over the fact that only 0.05% of tallow is present in each bill. They also mentioned that roughly 50 cattle would be needed to produce 9.3 billion copies of £5, £10 and £20 notes over the next ten years. That may not sound like much, but 50 cattle is still 50 cattle.
When considering the central bank’s reasoning and cost involved in re-circulating their new bills, it doesn’t mean that future bills have to contain tallow, does it?