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Paper or Plastic?

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16. January 2014

Usually when people hear “plastic money” the first things that come to mind are the credit and debit cards they regularly use in lieu of paper currency. But the whole paper vs. plastics question seems to be taking on an altogether new meaning. An article that ran last year in The New York Times reported that after 300 years Britain will be converting from cotton-based paper to plastic beginning with 5 and 10 pound notes. According to the article, Canada and Australia and about two dozen other countries have already the switch.

 

The Bank of England is expected to contract with Innovia Films to produce the plastic currency, according to a press release on the processor's website. Innovia's product is a biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film it calls Guardian. Guardian is used as a substrate by more than 20 other countries, including Canada, Innovia says. The company plans on investing more than $30 million at its facility in Wigton, Cumbria to support the new business.

 

The U.S. is not expected to follow any time soon, but the article in The Grey Lady, as the Times is known, did extol the virtues of plastics in this particular application: it is more durable than paper and also harder to counterfeit.

 

Australia is credited with inventing plastic currency in 1988 from BOPP. Sources say Mobil Chemical developed a BOPP-based alternative to paper for the U.S. market years ago.  Though described as a “fantastic product,” it could not overcome government obstacles. Last October, New Delhi, India-based Jindal Poly Films, Ltd., announced it had completed its acquisition of ExxonMobil Chemical's global BOPP films business, a process that started in 2012.

 

Here's some background on England's move, which is scheduled to become effective in 2016.

 

Then check this out. It seems that when plastic became the substrate of choice in Australia, the process was downward blown film.

 

 

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