Bank of England prepares for polymer £50

By Jo Francis, Friday 07 June 2019

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The Bank of England has awarded the substrate contract for the coming polymer £50 to CCL Secure and De La Rue.

50-pound-note

Current £50 will be replaced by polymer version

Both firms are already suppliers to the Bank.

The new, eight-year contracts with the two companies also includes additional polymer for future production of the existing £5 and £10 notes, which have been on polymer stock since 2016 and 2017 respectively.

“Under these contracts the first call-off volume for production of the initial launch stock of £50 has been awarded 55% to CCL Secure and 45% to De La Rue International,” the Bank said.

The decision by the Court of the Bank of England follows a £50m public procurement process launched in December last year. It involves enough polymer to produce 2.5bn notes.

CCL Secure (then Innovia Films) was initially the sole supplier of polymer to the Bank, with De La Rue becoming a co-supplier in 2017.

When the £50 becomes polymer it will complete the Bank's move from traditional cotton bankmote paper to polymer across all note denominations.

“Supply of polymer under the new contract will commence in 2020. 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 Bank had faced a high-profile campaign from vegans, who objected to the presence of tallow in the polymer although the quantities involved are minute.

De La Rue chief executive Martin Sutherland said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by the Bank of England to supply polymer substrate for the new £50 notes and to have the opportunity to supply Safeguard for future production of the £5 and £10. This new contract is an important strategic milestone as we continue to increase our share of the fast-growing polymer market.

“We have a long-standing relationship with the Bank of England designing and printing banknotes – and now supplying polymer substrate, which we believe will continue to go from strength to strength in the future.”

Neil Sanders, vice president and managing director at CCL Secure, said banknotes made using the firm’s Guardian polymer were in use around the world.

“100% of £5 and £10 banknotes currently in circulation are on Guardian polymer and 75% of the new £20 notes will be on Guardian after the launch of the new note next year,” he said.

Cumbria-based CCL Secure is the former Innovia Films, which was acquired by Canadian-headquartered packaging group CCL Industries in 2017.   

The polymer £50 will follow the £20 at a date to be confirmed. It will feature an image of a person who has contributed to science in the UK. The Bank received 227,299 nominations when it launched a public call for suggestions for the new ‘face’ of the £50 last year. These were narrowed down to 989 eligible names with a final decision to be announced this summer.

The new polymer £20 will feature an image of artist JMW Turner and will be issued in the first half of next year. De La Rue, which has a banknote printing contract with the Bank of England that runs until 2025, has been printing the notes since last year to build up the necessary volumes. The £20 is the most abundant note in use, with more than 2bn currently in circulation.

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