×

Bank of England looking at ways to make its new £5 note more animal-friendly

The Bank of England has announced that it is looking at "potential solutions" into making its new polymer banknotes more vegan-friendly, after it discovered that the new £5 note contained traces of animal fat.

"We are aware of some people's concerns about traces of tallow in our new £5 note. We respect those concerns and are treating them with the utmost seriousness," the Bank of England said in a statement.


The new polymer £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill
Joe Giddens/WPA Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The new polymer £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill

The U.K. central bank went on to add that at the time the contract — to print the new notes — was signed with supplier Innovia, the Bank wasn't aware that the banknote contained tallow.

According to the Bank, the amount of tallow used in the banknotes is "extremely small" and that the substance is used in an early stage of the production process of the polymer pellets.

"Innovia is now working intensively with its supply chain and will keep the Bank informed on progress towards potential solutions."

The central bank's announcement comes just days after members of the U.K. public expressed their upset over revelations that the new polymer note contained traces of tallow, a substance which comes from animal fats.

The news caused upset among religious groups, British vegans and vegetarians, with more than 117,000 people having now signed a Change.org petition asking the bank to remove the ingredient.

Prior to the bank's latest announcement, Lynne Elliot, CEO of The Vegetarian Society, told CNBC over the phone that the central bank had been listening to the public's concerns and understood that it was a major issue for a number of people.

The introduction of the £5 banknote back in September marked a new period for the Bank of England and the U.K., as it was the central bank's first note to be made out of polymer, marking a shift away from the country's current use of paper banknotes.

The institution opted for the change to polymer as the new banknotes were seen as more secure, better for the environment and lasts around 2.5 times longer than their paper counterparts.

At present, the Bank of England plans to continue using the polymer material in the next two banknotes set to enter circulation: the polymer Jane Austen £10 banknote due in summer 2017, and the J.M.W. Turner £20 banknote, due out by 2020.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.