Cash industry environmental work

It’s been a while since we shared an update on the work that participants in the UK cash supply chain are doing to reduce the environmental impacts of cash.

The Cash Industry Environmental Charter Group continues to meet on a regular basis to give members of the group a forum to share details of challenges they have faced and any progress they have made in this space.

Recent highlights

A subgroup is trialling a new kind of seal for banknote cages. The new seals can be permanently attached to the cage, with only a small security tag that needs to be discarded on each use. If adopted, it is hoped that this will remove the need for many thousands of single use plastic seals, reducing the volume of plastic used by around 60 per cent. The used seals can be returned to the supplier to be re-ground and used to make new seals.

Cash in Transit providers have been using the latest in telematics data to ensure that vehicles are not left idling while collections and deliveries are made. This has already significantly reduced their fuel consumption and the associated level of emissions. Electric vehicles are also being introduced to cover local urban routes and reduce the environmental impact of cash even further.

Barclays have reduced their use of paper by over 60 per cent since 2020 by simply removing their staff’s ability to print unless they can demonstrate a specific need to do so. This has highlighted a number of opportunities for doing things differently and has encouraged internal compliance departments to modernise their thinking around what constitutes an acceptable audit trail.

The Royal Mint has recently opened its own Local Energy Centre (LEC). This is made up of a new solar farm, an additional wind turbine, a combined heat and power plant and battery storage facility. The Mint aims to generate 70 per cent of the power used on-site via the LEC, which will form a key part of its journey to Net Zero. Later this year it will also be launching its new precious metals recovery plant, which will extract precious metals from circuit boards found in old mobile phones and laptops for use in a range of jewellery.

Channelling their ‘inner Barbie’ on the theme of “plastic is fantastic” (or not), the Coventry Building Society (CBS) ran a pilot scheme with its cash handling partner G4S to remove small plastic coin bags from their branch deposits. Following positive feedback, the building society is working to roll this out more widely, with an estimated saving of over a quarter of a million single use plastic sachets each year.

In related news

HSBC has been trialling plastic card recycling machines in selected branches. Having tried one out in London’s Canary Wharf, I can report that feeding the machine with your expired bank cards results in a very satisfying “munchy” noise and is a worthwhile way to spend a few minutes. The shredded cards are handled securely and recycled into plastic pellets which can then be reused.

So what?

The key point to remember here is that we can’t do everything – but we can all do something.

Area of expertise: