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UK To Replace Paper Money with Plastic in 2016

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The Bank of England will start issuing plastic banknotes in 2016 to replace paper money, the institution announced Wednesday.

The next 5 pound and ten pound banknotes will be printed on polymer, a thin flexible plastic film. Along with the big change, the bills will feature a historical character opposite Queen Elizabeth II. The new five pound note will showcase Winston Churchill and the 10 pound bill, estimated to be issued around 2017, will feature Jane Austen.

The decision comes after a three-year research program that found plastic bankotes will stay cleaner, are more secure compared to paper bills, and are more durable than their original counterparts, according to a statement by the Bank of England. They will also be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

The Bank also took public opinion into consideration, surveying participants across the United Kingdom. Out of 13,000 people, 87 percent were in favor of a polymer note, while 7 percent were neutral and 6 percent were opposed to the idea.

"Ensuring trust and confidence in money is at the heart of what central banks do," said Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England. "Polymer notes are the next step in the evolution of banknote design to meet that objective."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio