Reserve Bank of Australia

A New Era – Polymer Currency Notes: 1988 Onwards

Advantages of Polymer Notes

While polymer currency technology was originally developed to make counterfeiting more difficult and costly, it also has advantages over paper currency in terms of durability and recycling.

Polymer banknotes last significantly longer in circulation than paper banknotes.Polymer substrate is more robust and resistant to damage from moisture, dirt, oils and household chemicals. This enhanced durability has resulted in a big reduction in the number of notes required and therefore in note printing costs.

Photograph showing granulated polymer notes and pellets

The longer life of polymer notes also means less waste, compared with paper notes. A key environmental advantage is that polymer notes can be recycled whereas waste from paper notes could only be buried or burnt.

Polymer notes no longer fit for use are granulated and then melted and blended into pellets. These pellets are the raw material for recycling.

A range of environmentally-friendly products can be produced using polymer note pellets including garden items such as compost bins, plumbing supplies such as grease traps and housebuilding items such as bricks and roof shingles.