No waste is the best waste
That’s certainly the case for banknotes, at least: The longer they last, the fewer banknotes have to be disposed of. That’s why we developed LongLife™ and Hybrid™ banknotes – cotton banknotes coated with a special lacquer or a thin foil layer. It significantly boosts the durability of notes with high circulation rates, without compromising on security. For example, three years ago the Bank of Jamaica changed the material it used for its highest circulation banknote, the Jamaican 100 dollar bill, from pure cotton to a Hybrid™ substrate. Everyday life in Jamaica is very much cashbased and the 100 dollar bill is the most popular banknote. In the past, the 100 dollar bills had to be replaced and disposed of every four months; today, Hybrid™ technology has tripled the lifetime of the banknote to a full year. An even longer lifespan would have been possible with pure polymer banknotes. However, switching to pure polymer would have meant a new design, getting rid of certain security features and converting all the automated processing systems. None of that was necessary with Hybrid™ banknotes, which therefore offered a much better cost-benefit ratio.
Whether they’re made of cotton, polymers or a combination of the two, banknotes only account for a very small proportion of the world’s waste. German households produced 46 million tons of household waste just in 2016. By contrast, a mere 150,000 tons of banknote substrate are produced each year worldwide – and that only has to be disposed of at the end of its useful life. Be that as it may, this is an issue that we care about deeply.
Pure polymer banknotes can be recycled into new products, such as flower pots. Often this doesn’t happen, however, and the old notes end up in incineration plants or going to landfill.
Cotton has a particularly good calorific value. The heat energy generated from burning cotton banknotes can be used in a variety of ways, wherever particularly high temperatures are required – in cement production, for example.
How sustainable can a banknote be? We took a hard look at our entire value chain: What is going well? Where could we do even better?
The Life of a Banknote
Louisenthal is running the Life of a Banknote program to promote tangible action for green banknotes, including the use of green energy, fair-trade cotton, reusable packaging and recycling. Did you know we produce 25% of our own electricity and have reduced water consumption by 40% in 9 years?