Questions about banknotes to be printed and recycled plastic used in polymer banknotes

We publish details of a selection of requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and the information we disclose in response.

Date: 30 October 2019


1. How many new bank notes (£5, £10, £20, £50) are intended to be printed in the year 2020?

Our forecast as at August 2019 was to print 800 million banknotes in 2020. Of these, 400 million will be the new polymer £50 notes, 300 million new polymer £20 notes and 100 million polymer £10 notes. We do not plan to print any new polymer £5 notes.  However, our forecast numbers are subject to change as we regularly update them, taking into consideration a number of factors, including changes in demand for each denomination.

2. How many new £50 are intended to be printed with Alan Turing on in the next 5 years?

In October 2018, we anticipated that we would need to print 550 million of the new £50 polymer notes over the five year period from 2020 to 2024. As we mentioned above, we have plans to print 400 million of the new £50 polymer notes in 2020. Actual printing requirements beyond 2020 will depend on a number of factors, including changes in demand for different denominations and the speed at which the old paper £50 notes are exchanged for new polymer notes.

3. When will the new Alan Turing £50 start to be printed and when will it enter circulation?

On 15 July, the Governor of the Bank, Mark Carney, announced that the new polymer £50 note is expected to enter circulation by the end of 2021. More information about the Alan Turing £50 note can be found in the news release on the Bank’s website.

4. What percentage of plastic contained in new bank notes is from recycled sources?

A proportion of the plastic in new banknotes is from recycled sources but we do not have a precise figure. You may be interested to know that the Bank is actively addressing the impact of its operations on climate change. One of the reasons that we moved to polymer is because these banknotes last around 2.5 times longer than paper banknotes. The Carbon Trust has certified that over their full life cycle, the carbon footprint of a £5 polymer banknote is 16% lower than the £5 paper banknote, while the carbon footprint of a £10 polymer banknote is 8% lower than the £10 paper banknote. Polymer banknotes that are returned to us for destruction are turned into pellets before being transformed into new plastic items, such as plant pots and storage boxes. More information about the life cycle and carbon footprint of banknotes can be found on the Bank’s website.