Environmental sustainability

How do we help the environment?

Euro banknotes have been an environmentally friendly product since their launch. They are produced using cotton fibres sourced exclusively from the waste by-product of the textile industry, and can therefore be described as made from recycled materials.

In 2014 it was decided to require cotton to be sustainably sourced. This has been progressively implemented since then, and from 2023 onwards, all euro banknotes will be produced entirely from sustainable cotton. 

A further environmentally friendly measure was the introduction of varnished banknotes in the Europa series (2012). Varnishing the €5, €10 and €20 euro banknotes has significantly extended their average lifetime, thereby reducing the need to replace euro banknotes and, consequently, meaning fewer raw materials and less energy are used to produce them. 

Subsequently, further commitment was adopted, starting in 2022, not to send to landfill any waste from banknote destruction or other production processes, therefore eliminating any procedure that is not enviromentaly friendly.

Initiatives of the Banco de España

Since 2021, the Banco de España has not sent banknote waste to a landfill, planning to allocate a growing percentage of its waste to recycling and the rest to energy recovery. However, the Banco de España’s commitment does not end there. It also has launched several avenues of research to identify new recycling systems for banknote waste, together with other packaging materials and methods, improving its environmental performance.

Lastly, since 2020 the Banco de España has been among the national central banks to work most actively with the Eurosystem to update the calculations of the environmental impact of cash. The methodology developed by the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint initiative is being used for this purpose.

Thanks to the first calculation of this impact, carried out with the introduction of the euro, new measures were implemented such as replacing the banknote paper with a sustainably produced alternative and requiring any manufacturers wanting to engage in the production of euro banknotes to hold environmental certification ISO 14001. The update of the Product Environmental Footprint calculations is expected to reveal further potential environmental improvements that will be implemented in the coming years.

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