INEOS has been helping The Bank of England to make money.
It has been supplying the polymer for its new plastic £5 and £10 banknotes.
"It is so pleasing to see a new application for an old product," said John Harrison, who manages the customer account that produces the bank notes.
The shift to plastic over cotton pulp for banknotes has not only been good news for INEOS’ O&P sites in Scotland and Belgium, though.
It has also been good news for The Bank of England which says the new polymer notes are waterproof, cheaper, cleaner, easier to recycle and, more importantly, harder to copy.
“In many ways, it is a logical use of plastic that will be appreciated by society,” said Graham MacLennan, Product Manager – Polymers at INEOS Ole ns & Polymers Europe (UK).
The new plastic notes are also tougher than their ‘paper’ counterparts and expected to last 2.5 times longer. That, in turn, is better for the environment because fewer will need to be printed. And it’s a fact verified by The Carbon Trust.
“The new notes can also survive a spin in the washing machine relatively unscathed,” said John. “But I would not advise ironing them. They will melt.”
INEOS manufactures polymer at its sites in Grangemouth and Lillo.
The pea-sized granules are then delivered to one of INEOS’ long-standing UK-based customers which melts the granules to make a very thin, see-through and flexible plastic film.
That is then coated – at another location – with multiple ink layers that allow The Bank of England to print its design.
So far more than 375 million polymer £10 notes have been printed since they were launched on the 200th anniversary of the death of author Jane Austen, who wrote such classic novels as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and whose portrait is featured on the note.
The new £10 has a number of enhanced security features, such as see-through windows, a coloured quill that changes colour when the note is tilted and a silver foil patch containing a hologram. All are designed to make it harder to counterfeit.
In countries like Singapore and Australia, polymer banknotes are nothing new.
But by making the switch, The Bank of England, which is one of the world’s oldest banks, may well become the catalyst for change around the globe.
And that could really be good news for INEOS as one of the major producers of plastic.
“Our UK customer sells to all four corners of the earth so there is a great opportunity for them to win business which, in turn, could benefit us,” said Graham.