UK Cash Industry Joins Forces to Meet Climate Targets

February 2021

In the last quarter of last year, the UK bank NatWest established three cross industry working groups to improve the environmental performance of the UK’s cash cycle. Involving 36 organisations, the working groups looked at energy, plastics and CO2 to establish best practice and to drive change.

The UK has signed up to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as laid out in the Paris Agreement and which, in 2019, became part of UK law. Global emissions must fall by 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030 if the global temperature rise is to be limited to 1.5°C and to achieve net zero. The UK projections suggest that it will fall behind where it needs to be.

The response of the industry was impressive, with parties from the entire cash cycle involved – including the Bank of England, De La Rue and the Royal Mint, 13 commercial banks, retailers, machine suppliers, ATM companies, CITs and more.

Energy working group

This group looked at how to minimise energy use whilst maintaining operations. Energy efficiency in buildings was excluded, since in most organisations this is an ‘estates’ issue rather than a day-to-day operational responsibility.

The plan agreed is that in 2021 companies will move to using 100% renewable energy for their own operations and work with procurement to encourage their supply chain partners to do the same. By 2024 this should be a requirement on suppliers. In 2021 data should be gathered so that in 2022 energy efficiency standards can be set.

Plastics working group

It was recognised that plastics are needed but that single use plastics, in particular, are wasteful.

The British Retail Consortium agreed to help with customer outreach and engagement about the use of plastics. A review of standards to see if the value of coins in bags can be increased is needed. A plastic bag levy was discussed, and this will need work to understand how this might be calculated and charged.

Loomis and Virgin Money (formerly Clydesdale Bank) will trial using cardboard cartons rather than plastic and investigation is needed to see if cardboard can be used in NotaTracc trays.

Glory explained that six countries in Europe use TCR fitness sorting to allow local recycling, and a number of organisations will now investigate this.

Finally, increasing bulk till limits was proposed, although the insurance implications need investigating.

The plan agreed was to eliminate single-use non-recyclable plastic in note centres in a series of steps so that by 2030 they have been eliminated (25% less by 2023, 50% less by 2025).

Similarly, for coins, to reduce this, by weight, to less than 45% by 2030 (less than 70% by 2023, less than 60% by 2025). UK legislation has already set a requirement of less than 55% by 2030. The base line is 2019’s figures.

Carbon working group

Reducing carbon cuts across all that the organisations do. As a result, the opportunity for local recycling provided by Teller Cash Recycler fitness sorting was discussed.

The need for the environmental impact of policies to be part of policy development was highlighted, including the need for procurement to be used to include suppliers and partners. A trial is needed for keyless access. Knowledge sharing needs to be embedded and become normal. There is a need to collect good quality data and to share it. There was also discussion about the benefits of developing standards, looking outside of the industry.

The agreed plan was to achieve net zero carbon for each organisation’s own operations and for business travel by 2030 (based on a 2019 base line).


A charter created as part of this work includes both commitments and targets. All were asked to sign up to this by 29 January 2021.

As part of this work, it was agreed that UK Finance would work to unite the industry and to continue to drive collaboration. This role is particularly important given some of the actions identified by the working groups, such as the need to establish base line data against which to be measured, for a review of industry standards, to co-ordinate collaboration and information sharing etc.

Also in this issue:

  • The View from China
  • How the Cash Industry Can Turn Goodwill into Practice
  • Cash Industry Leaders – What a Difference a Year Makes
  • News In Brief
  • CEO Baton Passed on at Koenig & Bauer
  • New Home for SICPA Down Under
  • An Interview with the Chairman of the Board of CBPM
  • Solidarity in Times of Crisis
  • Seaweed – a Natural Solution to Keep Banknotes Clean
  • 2020: A Good Year for Polymer Banknotes
  • Shrap Offers a Future Without Coins
  • Banque de France Invests in Modernisation
  • Healthy Indoor Environment for Banks and Banknote Processing
  • Authentication Through Animation 
  • Security Threads for Banknotes
  • BIN Global Central Bank Survey Results
  • Cash & Payment News in February
  • The Modern Omani Renaissance in Banknotes
  • Libya Marks Anniversary with New Polymer Note
  • Upcoming Events

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