The United States plays an essential role in the worldwide cotton market, acting as a central producer and exporter of cotton fiber. The United States ranks 3rd in total cotton production and export, behind China and India.
There is an interesting fact about U.S. currency. Currency notes are usually made of paper or wood pulp but the U.S. dollar note is not made of paper at all, but of a different element that will come as an astonishment.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the currency USD is made out of 75% cotton and 25% linen. In the United States, the USD note is the first turn ups in the 17th century, and the first “dollar bills” were printed about 70 years later from now.
Crane and Company, has supplied the U.S. Treasury with paper currency since 1879. According to their company website, U.S. currency is made with the most durable banknote paper in the world. This company also have worked over the years to improve its technology with the durability, printability, aesthetics, and features of paper currency. They make the currency paper and then handover it over to a government printing press for the bills to be printed.
Currency paper has teeny red and blue synthetic fibers of diverse lengths evenly distributed. Red and blue silk fibers were incorporated into the cotton-linen mix as security. The ink used on paper money is singularly formulated to endure fading over time. Recently, in many one-dollar bills, linen is fast being replaced by synthetic fibers. The formation is now about 80% cotton and 20% synthetic fibers.
In USD bills cotton and especially linen increase durability, flexibility, and distinctive look and feel. This feeling cannot be replicated by wood fiber paper. Bob Leuver, former Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said, “Cotton comes from a softy fibrous plant or the covering of seeds of the mallow genus. Oddly much of the cotton used for currency comes from the Carolinas, where used denim clothing or waste in denim clothing production, is washed, bleached, and bagged. Cotton can be harvested in other states, but denim is an excellent source”.
Generally, the paper dollar bill would mess up too quickly, and wouldn’t survive through a wash but the rag fibers dollar bill does not impair when wet. The ‘rag fibers’ is the main component that is used to make a dollar bill. The rag fiber combination is made of cotton, linen, and versatile synthetic fibers. U.S. currency can be folded approximately 4,100 times before it will tear, meaning that, the circulation time for bills is 4-10 years. Currently, almost $2.2 trillion is in circulation across the US.
The paper has built-in security into it. For the 5-dollar bill and above, this includes a security thread and watermark. A 6mm wide 3-D security ribbon is knitted into the paper for the $100 bills.
Chris Ford, PCCA’s Domestic Sales Manager said, PCCA has been supplying cotton to make the currency of the United States since 2007. He added that “There are not enough motes in the U.S. so they started buying graded cotton from Turkey. We went through several tests for six or 8 months before they figured out how to make it work and the pricing. Then we started supplying them with the cotton.”
In Europe, for instance, so-called comber noils are used for making their currency note. These are concise cotton fibers that are a waste flux from the textile industry.
The accurate ratio of cotton, linen, and other materials is kept undercover sometimes and it can vary with countries’ policies. Many countries are now using or planning to use plastic polymer bills as an alternative or better choice, which are even more durable, stay cleaner, and can have security features such as transparency. For example, the United Kingdom is planning on switching from cotton to polymer banknotes, The Philippines uses a unique material for its currency 80% cotton and 20% abaca.
Everything has its pros and cons. The costs of producing cotton and linen banknotes are lower than for other forms of cash. The Federal Reserve spends about 6 cents to produce per $1 USD. Sustainability suggests recycling this currency in means of the caloric value of cotton. Used cotton banknotes can be a good substitute for fuel in the ceramic industry. Another sustainable possible solution is to compost the unfit cotton banknotes.