Money, Money, Money….. Tallow vs Palm Oil VS Animals vs Environment

Animal vs enviroThe new £5 notes were launched last year and the paper note will be withdrawn 5th May this year. The plastic note provides lots of new benefits; they are durable, washable and are more difficult to rip it can therefore be assumed that they will last longer (that’s the idea anyway). However, has this been at a cost? not long after the new notes were introduced it was confirmed that tallow (albeit in very small quantities) had been used to provide the notes with the new properties. Tallow is a form of beef or mutton fat commonly found in candles, bike tyres and plastic bags. The revelation caused a notable amount of controversy from vegan, vegetarian and religious groups across the nation.  A petition was initiated to cease the use of animal products in the production of currency – vegans, vegetarians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others in the U.K were concerned as currency was something they had to use but was against their beliefs and values therefore leaving them with no choice. 134,000 signatures were received in total.

It was announced last week that the Bank of England is now considering palm oil for the new £20 notes which are due to be launched in 2020. Are they essentially reverting from an ‘animal’ cost to an ‘environmental’ cost? Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, which is grown on the African oil palm tree. Palm oil is found in many foods from chocolate, to bread, to cheese. The uses of palm oil are now diversifying and it is now being used in cosmetics, cleaning agents and biofuels. The demand for palm oil is dramatically increasing. Greenpeace have stated that compared to levels in 2000, demand is predicted to more than double by 2030 and to triple by 2050. This demand has come at an environmental cost – vast areas of tropical forest have been cleared destroying and disrupting ecosystems and habitats. Other impacts include increased soil erosion and air/water pollution.

Will the concerns be transferred from vegan, vegetarian and religious groups to environmental groups? Animals of course are affected too by the disruption and loss of habitats. Are the cost savings of having durable notes that will last longer (reduced production costs) and material resource benefits going to offset the environmental costs? Tallow is a by-product of meat production anyway, and so isn’t it an example of resource efficiency? The Bank of England asked Efeca (Experts in Sustainable Forest and Agricultural Advice) to conduct an independent review of both the environmental and social impacts associated with potential plant-based alternatives to tallow. The Bank of England will use the review as supporting evidence for their decision over the appropriate plant-based alternative to be used in the new £10 and £20 notes. Their report is here

The decisions made by the Bank of England are subject to an assessment of options, their sustainability approach to mitigation of risk in terms of new design.  Any business will also have a choice over the decisions you make. At Credibly Green we help you to ascertain where improvements and efficiencies can be made, ensuring that your business is successfully operating for the ‘greater good’. We guide and support you through the process, and for more information and an informal chat please call 01746 552423 or email

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