The Bank of England announced Dec. 18 that the next £5 and £10 banknotes will be made of plastic rather than the current cotton paper.
The polymer notes will retain “the familiar look of Bank of England banknotes”, including the portrait the Queen and a historical character.
The first polymer note will be the £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill and will be issued in 2016. It will be followed around a year later by a polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen.
The bank's decision follows a three-year research program, which concluded that plastic notes are cleaner, more durable and more secure than their paper counterparts. There has also been an “overwhelmingly supportive” response from the public, it added.
“[This decision] takes advantage of the fact that plastics are durable, printable and can carry security features,” said Philip Law, the public and industry affairs director at the British Plastics Federation (BPF).
“Plastic banknotes have been tried and tested in some extreme climates like Singapore. They represent a rare union of innovation in both finance and manufacturing.
“The reason the ‘Old Lady of Threadneedle Street' has survived to such a grand old age is that she recognizes the need for change.”