The Riksbank takes the climate into account in its handling of banknotes and coins
The Riksbank has the exclusive right to issue banknotes and coins in Sweden and is responsible for the provision of cash. This means that the Riksbank both supplies and destroys banknotes and coins, as well as redeeming banknotes that are no longer legal tender. Here, the Riksbank works on several aspects of sustainability, such as the design of banknotes and coins, procurement and contracts, and its handling of banknotes and coins. For example, the Riksbank has issued coins in the lower denominations because coins last longer than banknotes. Lower denominations are used more often and are thus exposed to more wear and tear than higher denominations. The new coins are also lighter than the previous versions, which means lower transport costs. The Riksbank has also abandoned nickel and other alloys that were present in older coins. Steel, which has a lower environmental impact from mining, is mostly used today. Nickel and other alloys can also cause allergy problems for people using the coins.
The Riksbank also requires some of the cotton used in banknote paper to be organic, that is, produced without pesticides and with regard to nature and human beings. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certifies this cotton. The paper in Swedish banknotes is also designed to be as physically sustainable as possible and to withstand dirt and wear. This ensures that the banknotes last a long time and do not need to be replaced so often. When the Riksbank finally destroys worn and invalid banknotes, Swedish heating plants burn the waste material and use it for district heating. Worn and invalid coins are sold so that the metal can be melted down and recycled.
ISO certification requirements for manufacturers
The Riksbank requires the manufacturers of our banknotes and coins to have ISO certification concerning quality, the environment and the working environment, in addition to which they must have well developed CSR work. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental international organisation with over 160 national standardisation bodies as members that aims to develop a global standard. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a company’s work to integrate human rights, the environment, social responsibility, and anti-corruption and laws into its operations. Both the banknote manufacturer and the coin manufacturer are certified according to ISO 14001, an environmental management system that provides a structured and systematic approach that helps different types of organisation reduce their environmental impact but also acts as a support for business development. With this certification, the manufacturers of banknotes and coins have introduced targets to reduce their environmental impact, for example by limiting discharges to sewers and landfills and reducing their water and energy use.
Climate perspective in the payment infrastructure
The Riksbank also follows developments on the payment market and continually analyses the use of cash and alternative means of payment in the economy in order to stand prepared to adapt its operations to changes in society in the most sustainable way for the environment and individuals. In the Payments Report for 2021, the Riksbank assesses whether payments in Sweden are safe and efficient. See Payments Report 2021, Sveriges Riksbank. One factor in the assessment of efficiency is that the costs to society, including energy consumption, for various methods of payment should be low. The report describes the energy consumption of various payment methods and estimates that the energy consumption of card payments is lower than that of cash, and that some cryptoassets have extremely high resource consumption.
In May 2022, the Riksbank will launch a new service, RIX-INST, which will allow banks or payment service providers to offer more services in which payment is made immediately. The Riksbank has signed an agreement to use the Eurosystem’s platform for instant payments, known as TIPS (Target Instant Payment Settlement), for the system. TIPS has a low climate impact, especially in comparison to cryptoassets such as Bitcoin. Comparisons with the Visa card network also indicate that TIPS is a more energy efficient alternative.