Animal rights group PETA U.K. swiftly condemned the decision by the central bank to continue using polymer, and advocated a boycott of the banknotes by consumers.

“There’s no need for tallow, and the Bank of England has failed to balance the books by investing in a non-animal bank note component that would please everyone,” Elisa Allen, director of PETA, told CNBC via email.

“While the use of tallow is not the most shocking case of cruelty to animals, it is a direct subsidy for abattoirs for which there’s no justification. Our society is rapidly moving away from the destruction and violence of animal agriculture – one of the most significant contributors to climate change and a practice that causes billions of gentle, intelligent animals to suffer greatly every year.”

She added: “PETA suggests that while the public may not be able to avoid these nasty notes, they can take a stand for animals and the environment by not purchasing meat or dairy foods with their cash.”

The banknotes contain a trace amount of additives derived from animal products – typically less than 0.05 percent.

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