A new plastic currency that can withstand a spin in the washer will begin circulating in Britain in 2016, replacing paper bills with ones made of polymer, the Bank of England said Wednesday.
Britain’s central bank announced the switch the plastic currency after a public poll revealed wide backing for the move.
Officials said the new polymer-made notes are more secure and durable and will have a smaller environmental footprint.
In a survey of nearly 13,000 people, the central bank found that 87% were in favor of the switch to plastic bills. Only 6% opposed the change.
Britain will join more than 25 other countries that already use polymer-made notes. They include Canada, Australia and other countries where humid climates wear away paper bills more quickly.
The first bill to be made of polymer will be the five-pound note, which is have a portrait of Winston Churchill as well as that of Queen Elizabeth II; it will begin circulating in 2016. The 10-pound note, featuring novelist Jane Austen and the queen, will follow a year later.
Bank officials said the plastic-made bills are more durable, lasting at least 2.5 times longer than cotton-based bills. They should be able to withstand an accidental washing, though will melt under high heat.
The new bills will also be smaller than current pound notes, the bank said. Current “notes are currently large compared with their international counterparts, making the largest denomination notes harder to fit into cash handling technology and less convenient to use.”