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Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

Inventor of polymer banknote: Veggie £5 refuseniks are being 'absolutely stupid'

Professor David Solomon, the inventor of the polymer banknote, has told vegetarians that they're being "stupid" over their opposition to its trace amounts of animal fat.

The UK's new plastic notes were introduced earlier this year to replace the UK's battered and disintegrating stocks of paper** £5 notes.

However, when the Bank of England confirmed that there was a trace of tallow in the polymer pellets used in the base substrate of the placcy fivers, veggies lost their minds.

This morning, the Royal Society fellow and polymer chemist, who is also known for his investigation of living free-radical polymerization techniques, told Australian radio station 2GB that the campaign to find a non-animal alternative substance in the manufacture of the money was "stupid. It's absolutely stupid," according to the Guardian. The Australian chemist went on to note that "there's trivial amounts of [animal fat] in there."

As the Graun noted, more than 120,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that the Bank of England "cease to use animal products in the production of currency that we have to use."

This compares with just over 150,000 who have signed a petition asking Parliament to repeal the Investigatory Powers Act, which gained royal assent this week.

Solomon explained to 2GB that the polymer notes were much more difficult to forge and also delivered plentiful benefits for folks compared to the old paper ones.

"It picks up less drugs than paper notes," he explained, though we don't believe he means to assert that the benefit of the plastic fiver is a more efficient snort, "and you don’t chop down trees**."

Arboreal Armageddon or not, perhaps the fabled war between the hitherto allied factions of veggies and tree-huggers is approaching. It would be a suitable end to 2016. ®

* As a "trace" amount is quantified as less than 100 parts per million, and given the number of notes in circulation, Vice pegs the amount of tallow on all existing plastic fivers as 23kg – less than half the yield of one animal.

** Most currency, including the UK banknote, is made from cotton paper – a mix of cotton fibre and linen rag, which is more durable than paper made from wood pulp. Nevertheless, cotton is not a particularly environmentally friendly crop, so when it comes to a Green cause, this one might be a wash.


Followers of religions, including Jainism and Hinduism, which do not allow their adherents to consume or have contact with dead animals, have also complained about the banknotes.

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