Have you ever accidentally left a dollar in your pocket, only to find it ruined in the washer or dryer? British people will no longer have that problem when the United Kingdom rolls out new plastic money in 2016. The country is replacing paper banknotes (another name for physical money) with bills made of a polymer (PAH-leh-mer), which is a blend of materials used to make plastics. With the switch, the U.K. will join Canada, Australia, and more than 20 other countries around the world which already use plastic money. In addition to being more durable, plastic banknotes are harder to counterfeit and more environmentally friendly in the long run.
The Bank of England will start printing £5 notes first, followed by £10 notes the following year. (The "£" symbol stands for pounds sterling, or "pounds" for short, Great Britain's currency.) When the switch was first proposed in September 2013, the Bank of England took the new bills to people at malls and universities so that the public could get a look and feel for the prospective money. Of the 13,000 people surveyed, 87 percent were in favor of the change. Those opposed to the plastic bills complain that they are slippery and do not really fold.
Plastic money may be popular in other countries, but so far, the United States government has no plans to make this switch. For now, the U.S. will stick with its paper bills, which are made of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen.
Plastic bills last 2.5 times longer than paper bills. The average life of a $1 paper bill is 42 months. About how long, in years and months, would a $1 plastic bill last?