Canada has unveiled new polymer bills, which will replace paper $100 bills and, by 2012, paper 50s and 20s. They’re super slick and futurey-looking (even though they still feature pictures of the prime minister from 1911). More importantly, they’re designed to prevent fraud and will be better for the environment than paper money.
From an environmental standpoint, the polymer bills have two advantages over the paper ones: They’re more durable, and they can be recycled. The bills last two and a half to four times longer than regular bills, meaning that the Bank of Canada will have to fire up the presses less than half as often, which saves energy. And unlike paper money, the plastic bills don’t need to be destroyed once they’re unusable. We can envision a future in which it’s a status symbol to own, say, a fleece vest made out of recycled $100 bills.