The Bank of England will continue to use animal products in the manufacture of its banknotes, it announced today.
The Bank faced a storm of criticism last year for using tallow, a form of animal fat, in its new polymer £5 notes. Vegan groups branded the decision "disgraceful", and the Bank launched a public consultation. At one point, palm oil (itself not without controversial connotations) was floated as a potential alternative ingredient.
Threadneedle Street had already confirmed it would not be taking the meaty fiver out of circulation.
Today, the BoE said the new polymer £20 note and future print runs of £5 and £10 notes will "continue to be made from polymer manufactured using trace amounts of chemicals, typically less than 0.05 per cent, ultimately derived from animal products".
"This decision reflects multiple considerations including the concerns raised by the public, the availability of environmentally sustainable alternatives, positions of our Central Bank peers, value for money, as well as the widespread use of animal-derived additives in everyday products, including alternative payment methods. In reaching its decision, the Bank has also taken account of its obligations under the Equality Act 2010," the Bank said.
"The only currently viable alternative for polymer banknotes is to use chemicals ultimately derived from palm oil," the Bank continued, adding that 88 per cent of respondents to its consultation were against the use of animal-derived additives and 48 per cent were against the use of palm oil-derived additives.
The Bank said it had to balance these responses against its other public duties and priorities as well as the other evidence gathered over the past months.
"The use of palm oil raises questions about environmental sustainability and the Bank’s suppliers have been unable to commit to sourcing the highest level of sustainable palm oil at this time," it said.
"Value for money was also a consideration in the Bank’s decision. The estimated extra cost of switching has increased since the consultation and is now estimated to be around £16.5m over the next ten years."