Life cycle assessment of the ninth banknote series

Under its statutory mandate the Swiss National Bank has the exclusive right to issue Swiss banknotes, and determines their denominations and design. This means that the SNB has an influence on the environmental impact of its banknotes and endeavours to make their life cycle as environmentally compatible as possible.

After completion of the introduction of the ninth banknote series, in 2021 the SNB commissioned a life cycle assessment to analyse the associated environmental impact. The results of the life cycle assessment show that the issuance of Swiss banknotes has a low environmental impact. At around 1,900 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year in total, the greenhouse gas emissions are also low. Of this, around 1,550 tonnes result from the manufacture of the banknotes, primarily the production of high-quality raw materials. Another 250 tonnes or so result from SNB logistics, and around 100 tonnes from disposal in a waste incineration plant.

The findings on the causes of environmental impact allow the SNB to fulfil its aspiration to supply banknotes on an environmentally-compatible basis, as well as to fully offset the residual unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gas emissions originating from SNB logistics are part of the SNB’s operational processes and have been offset with certificates from climate protection projects since as early as 2011. The SNB is also offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the manufacture and disposal of banknotes retrospectively to the introduction of the ninth banknote series in 2016. The issuance of the ninth banknote series has thus had a neutral carbon footprint since its launch.

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