Sunday 24 May, 2020

5 quick facts about polymer notes

Photo by Darlisa Ghouralal.

Photo by Darlisa Ghouralal.

Trinidad and Tobago is moving toward replacing all of its existing paper banknotes with polymer ones in 2020, beginning with the circulation of a new $100 bill from tomorrow.

While paper bills remain popular, polymer banknotes are used in more than 30 countries around the world.

But what’s all the fuss about polymer notes?


Polymer banknotes, made of a clear thin piece of plastic, are less fragile than paper notes which succumb to wear and tear.

A study by the Bank of England (BoE) found that plastic polymer can last up to 2.5 times than paper notes.

The hydrophobic polyurethane varnish applied to the polymer bills prevents soiling and water damage, making it sturdier and less susceptible to tearing if it accidentally ends up being part of your laundry.


Even though polymer notes are a bit more costly to print versus paper notes, because the polymer notes are more durable than paper they have to be replaced less often, resulting in overall cost savings.

Environmentally friendly

Not only do fewer replacements mean cost savings, but it also spells good news for the environment as less raw material is required to produce polymer notes.

When paper notes are worn or damaged they have to be destroyed, but with polymer notes, the waste can be recycled and repurposed to make new plastic items, according to the BoE study.


The popularity of polymer notes is largely to do with its vast anti-counterfeit features.

As Government attempts to crackdown on forgery, money laundering, and other unscrupulous activities involving money, it has turned to polymer to assist in this effort.

Polymer notes offer a range of options, including intaglio (raised print), a clear plastic see-through window and hidden features that can only be see under UV light or with the aid of a maginifier.

Cleaner option

Polymer banknotes are significantly cleaner when compared to traditional paper banknotes.

As these notes are made with plastic, if it happens to get soiled or have liquid spilled on it, cleaning the bill is easier than it would be if a paper banknote needed to be cleaned.

The notes are also less likely to carry harmful bacteria and viruses, according to the BoE study.

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