Carbon emissions from new notes for CNY equal to powering 430 HDB flats

·Finance Editor
·3 min read
Close-up of hands preparing Chinese New Year (CNY) red packets during Chinese New Year festive period. (PHOTO: Getty)
The carbon emission to print new notes for the CNY festive demand in Singapore each year is comparable to the emissions from powering 430 four-room HDB flats annually. (PHOTO: Getty)

SINGAPORE – The carbon emission to print new notes for the Chinese New Year festive demand in Singapore each year is comparable to the emissions from powering 430 four-room HDB flats annually, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon revealed at a media briefing on Thursday (28 July).

In remarks made at a briefing on the MAS 2021/2022 sustainability report, Menon said that the carbon footprint of the excess new notes "makes up about 8 per cent of MAS' total emissions".

"MAS will step up efforts to reduce demand for new notes during festive seasons such as Lunar New Year (LNY) by encouraging the use of fit notes and e-gifting," he said. "We hope more Singaporeans will embrace these alternatives to reduce the environmental impact and carbon footprint of new notes for festive giving."

The central bank noted in its report that it aims to shift public preferences by encouraging the use of fit notes during festive gifting, and continuing with the progressive reduction of new notes to reduce the environmental impact of new notes issuance.

Eventually, MAS will no longer issue new notes for festive gifting.

Some 100 million pieces of new notes for Chinese New Year (also known as the LNY) and other festive periods are issued annually. These new notes are used once for gifting, and the majority of these notes are returned to MAS shortly after each LNY.

While most of these returned notes are recirculated to meet demand (for example, they are used to replace unfit notes in circulation), MAS said in its report, the excess will accumulate and are subsequently destroyed before the end of their useful life as they far exceed the replacement demand. "This wastes resources, resulting in unwarranted carbon emissions."

Reducing upstream emissions

Currently, MAS’ currency value chain comprises outsourced currency operations, in-house currency processing and waste incineration.

"The outsourced currency operations include currency production, processing and transportation. The reduction of carbon emissions from MAS’ outsourced currency operations hinges on a lowering in the public demand for notes and coins, given MAS’ mandate to meet the demand," the central bank said. "Nonetheless, MAS seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of our outsourced currency operations where we are able to, across the currency value chain — both upstream and downstream."

In currency production – which affects upstream emissions – MAS said it is working with its current polymer note printer, Note Printing Australia (NPA), to reduce carbon emissions from the production of notes.

"For example, NPA has increased the use of its renewable energy to 20 per cent of its grid electricity since July 2021 and is planning a production optimisation programme to further reduce its carbon emissions in the coming year," MAS said.

MAS will also incorporate environmental considerations in selecting future currency vendors.

"MAS hopes to influence change by making clear that this will be a key consideration in future procurement exercises."

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