SINGAPORE: Members of the public celebrating the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) are encouraged to use fit-for-gifting notes (fit notes) or e-hongbaos instead of new bank notes, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said on Tuesday (Dec 6).
In a statement, MAS said that fit notes are “used currency notes that are generally clean and of suitable quality for recirculation, including for festive gifting”.
The condition of these notes have been verified by banknote processing machines and are similar in quality to notes from ATMs, said the authority.
It said that approximately 100 million new notes are issued every year for CNY and other festive periods. A large majority of these notes are only used once for gifting, and are returned to MAS shortly after each CNY.
“While most of the returned notes are recirculated to meet public demand, such as to replace unfit notes in circulation, the volume of such notes far exceeds replacement needs. The excess notes are subsequently destroyed before the end of their useful life,” said MAS.
New notes issued purely to meet the demand for festive purposes “generate unnecessary carbon emissions and is a waste of resources”, said MAS.
The authority added that the annual carbon emissions are comparable to powering 430 four-room HDB flats, and that it would require 10,000 new trees to be planted to offset the emissions.
The practice of printing new notes “is not in line with environmental sustainability” or Singapore’s target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, MAS said.
Those who prefer to give physical hong baos for CNY can choose to use fit notes instead of new notes, while the e-hongbao offerings by banks have been enhanced over the years.
MAS added that it will be working closely with the banks to make fit notes more accessible to the public.
In conjunction with their advocacy for using fit notes, the authority will cease issuing good-as-new (GAN) S$2 notes, starting with the upcoming CNY.
“Fit notes are a more sustainable option, as GAN S$2 notes generate additional carbon emissions given the additional processing needed.”
The authority said that it will provide more details on the reservation and exchange of new and fit notes towards the end of the year.