New recyclable plastic banknotes with more durability will enter circulation from next November 26th and through the beginning of 2021, as announced on November 11th by the Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR).
The entire family of bills will be similar to the current ¢ 1,000 bill, which is printed on a plastic polymer. The old banknotes will continue in circulation during the following year but will be progressively decommissioned out of date.
The first bills to enter circulation will be ¢ 20,000 on November 26th. Subsequently, the central bank will put into circulation the ¢ 2,000 and ¢ 5,000 notes as of December 1st. The ¢ 1,000 and ¢ 10,000 bills will be released in early 2021.
The interim manager of the BCCR, Pablo Villalobos, explained that “in 2017 the Central Bank carried out a review process of the banknote family whose main objective was to offer society more efficient and safe banknotes. This review included aspects such as durability, cost and care for the environment”.
For his part, the director of the BCCR’s Issuance and Securities Department, Marvin Alvarado, assured during a press conference that this responds to a change in banknote technology.
These new bills will help prevent counterfeiting and will mean savings of up to 74% for the bank, as they last longer in circulation until being discarded, Alvarado explained. For example, an old ¢ 1,000 bill lasted an average of 12 months in circulation according to bank studies.
The new banknotes, however, last up to 64 months in circulation. In addition, plastic banknotes allow the material to be recycled at the end of its useful life, while, at present, most of the banknote family – printed on paper – does not allow it to be recycled.
When they reach a high level of impairment, commercial banks send the impaired notes to the Central Bank. This, in turn, evaluates the banknote and, if the state of deterioration is very high, proceeds to shred it.
“Its waste material (of the new banknotes) is 100% recyclable, becoming other products such as benches, railings for national parks, garbage dumps, playgrounds, etc.”, said the Central Bank in a statement.
Another peculiarity, as explained Alvarado, is its safety. In 9 years of circulation, the Central Bank has never received reports of counterfeiting of the ¢ 1,000 bills, while this did occur when they were made of paper.
In general terms, the banknotes will have the same security provisions as the ¢ 1,000 banknotes: a transparent window, prints that change color when the banknote is rotated, and reliefs for the blind population. According to bank data, in 2019 alone, banknote counterfeiting scams cost Costa Ricans around ¢ 80 million, among the cases that the BCCR was able to detect.