Plastic Cash is no Funny Money

See it on Canadian Geographic’s blog HERE

Paying with plastic will take on new meaning this year. The Bank of Canada has plans to change the material bills are made of from the traditional paper and cotton blend to a new polymer-based plastic.

The plastic bills have more security features and are resistant to water, oil, sweat and dust (so yes, you can launder your money – washing machines won’t destroy your bills like they used to). They also give new meaning to that old chestnut about “throwing your money away”. The new notes are actually recyclable.

Since the banknotes actually last longer, they are hailed as being more environmentally friendly because of the reduced need to print.

Sir Robert Borden will be the first to undergo the plastic makeover when the new $100 bills arrive in November. The $50 will follow suit next March and the smaller bills will all be available by the end of 2013.

Australia has been the leader in polymer-based bank notes, introducing them in 1992. The bills included a clear window that is extremely hard to reproduce, reducing the number of counterfeit bills in circulation.

In Canada the new cash is expected to push a declining trend in counterfeits even further. From a ten year high of 552,980 bills in 2004, the number of Canadian counterfeits dropped to 66,696 in 2009. The most common counterfeit bill is the $100, and the $5 the least common. Canadians are most likely to come across fake currency in B.C., with Nunavut being the least likely place.

The Bank of Canada will produce the notes with the help of an Australian company, Note Printing Australia Ltd., which produces currency down under.

Canada will be the ninth country to completely switch over to the plastic cash following Bermuda, Brunei, Romania, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua and New Zealand.

The switch is sure to re-enforce the notion that “money doesn’t grow on trees.”

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