Plastic Banknotes

Hurrah for plastic banknotes, which are to be introduced in the UK in five years’ time…apparently the Mail has already started publishing scare stories about how polymer banknotes have a greater tendency to harbour deadly germs and microbes and viruses, so that anyone who tries to pay for goods and services with these hideous slimy leaves will fall down in the street, screaming in pain as their hands and eyes are slowly covered with hideous blisters like the victims of The Andromeda Strain.
Hurrah for plastic banknotes, which will probably be made from biaxially-oriented polypropylene, a lovely variety of carefully stretched PP having greater thermal and mechanical stability than ordinary PP. Who knows, perhaps in the next five years a new version of this material will be developed, using nano-technology to regulate the spherulites.
The firms who produce PP will occasionally produce guidance brochures for their customers; these will often include advice on the use of adhesives or paint with PP – this often consists of a simple warning that “It is impossible to bond PP with adhesives, so don’t bother trying.” In which case, it would be reasonable to expect that printing on PP was equally difficult, and that the ornate patterns on a plastic banknote would be worn away after a few weeks in circulation, leaving you with a pocket full of worthless plstic sheets.
But my own research (20 years ago) showed that if you coat the surface with a primer film and then scrub it with abrasive paper, you can use epoxy or PU adhesives to stick PP to anything else. This technology might end up being useful to the people involved in designing polymer banknotes – whether they work for the Bank of England or some rather less wholesome organisation…
Hurrah for plastic banknotes, which can be gently rinsed under the cold tap to wash away any traces of cocaine or other proscribed substances which you may have been nasally ingesting…no more of these alarming news items claiming that ‘traces of coke have been found in forty percent of banknotes in the London area.’

 “Heavier in our purses and more toxic. Plastic is very toxic and contains many carcinogens, unlike paper. But we have become a plastic obsessed society. How will these break down when they wear out?
This comment, posted on the BBC news forum by ‘Peter’ in Dec 2012, shows how ignorant the UK population can be about polymer science. If plastic is “very toxic”, why is it used to make credit cards and drinking water bottles and disposable cutlery and cups and cellular telephone cases and car dashboards and false teeth and hearing aids and ballpoint pens?

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