New notes cause veggie controversy

Posted by Sophie Regester in Personal Finance on 23 December 2016 - Sophie is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Innovia, the maker of the new polymer £5 note is currently suffering some controversy as it recently came to light that it is not vegetarian-friendly.

The plastic polymer contains trace amounts of tallow traditionally obtained from beef, mutton and sometimes pork waste products. Tallow is often used as the base in soaps and candles but as it is being used in currency, an unavoidable product that people have to use, it has caused uproar in the vegetarian and vegan community. There is a petition circulating demanding the removal of the animal by-product from the notes and it is currently up to around 132,000 signatures and growing every day.

It isn’t just vegetarians and vegans who choose this way of life that are affected, there are those whose religion dictates what they cannot come into contact with. For instance, those who follow the Hindu religion regard cows as holy - which doesn’t really marry with the animal, even a small part of them, being folded up in their wallets. Sikh and Hindu temples ban the presence of meat and the tallow is regarded as such meaning that the currency should be banned from their places of worship. The Bank of England is aware of the situation which they are treating with the utmost seriousness and they say that Innovia is looking for solutions to replace the tallow in the notes.

Innovia is set to change hands as it is bought by Canadian based CCL for $1.13bn Canadian dollars, equal to £680m. Innovia make the majority of polymer bank notes worldwide and it is thought that this will tie in well with CCL’s existing products, as they currently specialise in labels and packaging. It is hoped that the change in ownership will not prevent the tallow issue being fully addressed, as I don’t think the millions of vegans, vegetarians, Jains, Hindus and Sikhs in the UK are going to let it lie.

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