10/19/2022, 15.11
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Polymer banknotes and sustainability, a hot topic in the Philippines

After introducing a 1,000-peso polymer banknote on an experimental basis, the Central Bank of the Philippines would like to do the same for other denominations. However, objections have been raised in the Philippine Senate over polymer’s impact on the environment and farmers.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The transition from paper to polymer banknotes is proving controversial in the Philippines.

Last spring, the Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP)[*] issued a polymer note on an experimental basis. Instead of the traditional hemp and cotton, the new 1,000-peso banknote[†] was made of polymer.

This material is not new. Several countries already use it. Australia was the first in 1988 while some 20 use it today, including Canada, Poland, and Vietnam.

According to the PBS, polymer banknotes are harder to counterfeit, easier to clean, and cheaper to make. In addition, the material is said to be environmentally friendlier as it can be recycled and has a longer life span.

“The longer life span of polymer banknotes would translate into lower replacement costs; hence higher production cost savings,” said BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto Tangonan. “Estimated production savings amount to PHP 1.2 to 2.4 billion.”

However, not everyone believes in its sustainability, including in the Philippine Congress. For Senator Pia Cayetano, who chairs the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, just because you can recycle the polymer does not mean it is truly sustainable.

“It will still not biodegrade. It will still be there and remain. It is a product that we created, and it will stay there forever,” she said.

As for sustainability, its impact to the environment is not the only factor to consider, but also to communities, in this case, farmers. 

Even if the number of producers affected is small, importing raw materials could hinder the sustainability of their activities, objected Leonardo Montemayor, president of the Federation of Free Farmers.

[*] Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

[†] US$ 1=PHP 59 pesos. One thousand pesos equal US$ 17.

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