Canadians will have access to new polymer-based bank notes this winter as the Bank of Canada recently announced that they will be releasing the new $100 bills in November. $50 bills will begin circulation next March and $20, $10, $5 will be introduced sometime in 2013.
The new plastic bills are made from a durable polymer that will eventually replace the cotton paper blend used in existing currency. They cost nearly twice as much to produce, but they're lighter more durable, which will reduce long-term costs in production and distribution.
The Bank of Canada commissioned studies to examine the different aspects of the currency's life cycle and its impact on the environment. From growing cotton, compared to producing the raw material for the polymer, to disposing of worn bank notes. The polymer shows improvements in all aspects of environmental impact. Some key highlights of the new production material include a 32 per cent reduction in global warming potential and a 30 per cent reduction in primary energy demand. The Bank of Canada also recently announced that it will recycle the polymer notes once they become worn.
Accessibility will be a key feature with the new bills to help blind and partially sighted Canadians recognize different denominations. They will maintain the tactile features used in the currently circulating series of bills, but because of the new material, this feature will last longer. The raised dots that identify the denomination of each bill will also be located in the top left corner instead of the top right. The bills also feature large numerals printed in distinct, high-contrast colours so that they are easy to see. Bank note readers will also work on both ends of the new notes.
Not only will the new bills be even more difficult to counterfeit, the new security features will be easy to verify. Canadians need only to "feel, look, flip," according to the Bank of Canada's slogan. The raised ink on the shoulders of the large portrait, the large number, and the words "Bank of Canada" and "Banque du Canada," can be felt from the smoothness of the rest of the bill. Also, look for visual features that include transparencies, metallic images, colours that change when tilting the bill, small numbers, and frosted borders. Visual features in the large window are also repeated in the same colours and detail on the other side of the bill.
For added security, single-point light sources, such as pot lights and household light bulbs can shined through the bill to see a circle of numbers matching the note's value in the frosted maple leaf window.