New £50 note WILL be made from plastic containing animal fat, Bank of England confirms

  • The decision follows anger over use of animal fat in the new plastic fiver in 2016
  • Bank of England has also produced new polymer £10 and £20 using animal fat
  • And has said they typically contains less than 0.05 per cent of the substance
  • It comes amidst concern over who will eventually feature on the new £50 note

The new £50 note will be made of plastic containing animal fat despite previous outcry from vegans and religious groups, the Bank of England has confirmed.

The Bank said it made the decision to continue using polymer for the £50 note made with a trace amount of tallow – an animal byproduct – after ‘careful consideration’ and as part of putting the contract out to tender.

The announcement came as it revealed banknote printer De La Rue has won an eight-year contract jointly with Australia’s CCL Secure to supply the polymer for the £50 note and £5 and £10 notes.

The £50 in circulation now was introduced in 2011, and there were questions over whether a plastic one would be introduced. But Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, announced last year that one would be produced

Mark Carney speaks during the announcement of the new polymer £50 note, as he urged people to think of suitable scientists it could feature

It follows furious backlash over the use of animal fat in the new plastic fiver in 2016, which sparked a petition calling for the use of tallow in notes to be stopped.

However, the Bank announced in August 2017 that it would stick with the plastic containing animal fat as it said it would be too costly to switch to palm oil alternatives, while it also said the move would raise questions over environmental sustainability.

It has since also produced the new polymer £10 and £20 using the plastic, which typically contains less than 0.05% of animal fat.

The Bank said the supply of the polymer under the new contract with De La Rue and CCL Secure will start next year.

De La Rue will provide 45 per cent of the substrate for the initial launch stock of 50-pound notes, and CCL 55 per cent.

It said: ‘Within this process and after careful consideration, the Bank has decided that the composition of the polymer for the next £50 will be the same as for the current £5, £10 and £20.’

The current £50 banknote features 18th century business partnership of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and engineer James Watt


Stephen Hawking (left) and Anne McLaren (right), a leader in test tube fertilisation, are among the names being put forward for consideration

It emerged late in 2017 that the Bank spent more than £1,500 a day on a public consultation into the use of animal fat in new bank notes, in total spending £66,941 between March 30 and May 12.

Currently CCL Secure – previously Innovia Security – is the only supplier of polymer for the Bank’s notes.

De La Rue is responsible for printing all Bank of England notes at the central bank’s facility in Debden, Essex.

The Bank is also set to announce soon the character to feature on the new £50, having received nearly 230,000 nominations from the public.

MPs earlier this year urged The Bank of England to adhere to their concerns that the scientist pictured on the new plastic note not be white.


Campaigners are urging the Bank of England to consider Mary Seacole or Charles Kuen Kao as the face of the new £50 note. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the final decision would be made in the summer

MP and Tory vice-chairman Helen Grant wrote to Bank governor Mark Carney about the fact there has never been a non-white face on a bank note.   

‘The Bank has a duty to ensure wider diversity is represented on our currency,’ she said.

‘There have only been four women in history on bank notes and no ethnic minorities.’   

Bank governor Mark Carney announced last year that the new polymer note will celebrate British achievement in science and threw it open to nominations.

It then drew up a list of nearly 1,000 people who could feature on the new £50 note, including Stephen Hawking, Marie Stopes and Ada Lovelace.

It plans to announce the person due to feature this summer.

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