Bank of England Governor Mark Carney unveils the new polymer five-pound note. Picture: Joe Giddens, Reuters

The bank of England said earlier this week that it would not change the way its new plastic banknotes are made, despite concerns among some vegetarians and religious groups about trace amounts of animal fat used in their production. 

The BoE said the only alternative for its polymer banknotes was to use more expensive chemicals derived from palm oil, and that its suppliers were unable to commit to using only palm oil produced in the most environmentally friendly way. 

More than 130 000 people signed an online petition last year calling on the BoE to stop using animal products in banknotes, after it emerged that small amounts of tallow – which comes from cows and sheep – were used in its first plastic £5 note.

Some Hindu temples and vegetarian cafes refused to accept the new £5 note.