Nearly 50 million plastic £5 and £10 notes have been replaced since they were launched.

BBC reports that the notes were replaced due to wear and tear, even though these notes were introduced to be able to “withstand being scrunched into pockets and survive a spin in the washing machine.”

The Bank of England introduced polymer £5 notes in 2016 and £10 notes in 2017, because they were “more durable” than the old paper versions.

According to the bank, the damage to the plastic notes was mainly caused by “folds, tears, holes and foil wear.”

According to figures obtained by the Press Association, around 20 million polymer £5 notes and some 26 million £10 notes have been replaced because of damage.

The Bank of England – which will launch a new plastic £20 note featuring artist JMW Turner this year – maintains that it has always said the new notes are not indestructible.

The Bank said it expected the new notes to last an average of five years in circulation, compared with an average of two years for the old paper designs.

It said damage to plastic notes was “consistent with expectations” and the number of plastic notes replaced represents a small percentage of the total number in circulation.

The Bank of England previously said that the new £20 is made from polymer and contains sophisticated security features, making it the most secure banknote to date in England.

The new £20 note (obverse)
The new £20 note (reverse)

It also contains a tactile feature for visually impaired people to identify the denomination.

This £20 banknote will join the Winston Churchill £5 and the Jane Austen £10.

The £50 note, featuring British mathematician, Alan Turing, will come in 2021.

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