Russia explains fate of damaged currency
Banknotes have served as a practical substitute for a large number of coins since at least the time of the Tang Dynasty in China, which began issuing flying money, or feiqian, probably around AD 770. more likely to have a longer shelf life. The destruction of worn or mutilated banknotes has always been entrusted to the issuing bank or government. The methods used to destroy these notes vary and are often shrouded in secrecy.
A Russia Beyond article published by Reuters on April 20 gives us some insight into how modern Russian banknotes are disposed of once they have exceeded their usefulness.
Russian banknotes have been printed exclusively in Moscow at the state-owned Goznak factory since 1919. The coins are produced in the mint workshops in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg Mint opened in 1724.
Modern Russian coins are issued with values up to 10 rubles. Bank of Russian banknotes are issued in denominations of 5 to 5,000 rubles, but the 5 and 10 ruble notes are not frequently in circulation. Weak denomination bank notes can be expected to circulate more often will higher denominations. For this reason, it is these small bills that can be expected to be damaged sooner and that need a reason to be remembered.
The criteria for a Russian banknote to be considered damaged “are fairly accurate,” according to the Russia Beyond article. If dirt obscures the colors by eight percent or more on a note, that note should be withdrawn from circulation. Special color brightness measurement equipment is used to help determine if a grade meets this standard. If a banknote has a stain or stain that is at least 5 millimeters in diameter, that banknote is also considered damaged.
It appears that the integrity of the paper on which Russian banknotes are printed must meet a higher standard than the paper on which American banknotes are printed. Any tear of 7mm or more or any hole at least 4mm in diameter on a Russian banknote will condemn that banknote to be destroyed. A Russian banknote should also be removed if there is a tear of 32 square millimeters or more in the corners or if at least 5 mm of the edges are missing. A note torn in half and glued together should also be removed.
Overall, at least 55 percent of a Russian banknote must remain in good condition if that note is to continue to be used in circulation. A score damaged to meet this criterion can legally be exchanged for another score. No merchant is allowed to refuse to accept a note which is still considered legally to be allowed to circulate.
The viability of coins in circulation must also meet a standard. At least 75 percent of the original part must still be intact for this legal tender. Damaged coins are shipped to the St. Petersburg Mint where they are flattened into a wavy shape.
Banknotes are no longer destroyed using the same procedure used during the days of the Soviet Union. During the Soviet period, a hole was drilled through the used banknotes, notes and then kept at the State Bank of the USSR in Moscow. During the 1980s, the notes can then be shredded and sold as confetti. Otherwise canceled notes were destroyed by steaming Goznak the color the paper, then being shredded. Notes were sometimes burnt. Both methods were considered dangerous and expensive.
Today, damaged Russian banknotes are sent to processing centers located in the buildings of the main branches of the Bank of Russia in Moscow, Novosibirsk or St. Petersburg. The banknotes are first sorted to determine which banknotes should be put back into circulation and which should not. The notes are also examined to verify their authenticity.
Notes deemed damaged are shredded and converted into mulch. This mulch is compressed into briquettes using presses capable of producing up to 500 kilograms in one hour. The briquettes are then classified as waste of the fourth category and placed in an appropriate disposal field. Russia has five hazard classes, the fourth being low risk and is defined as including household garbage, non-ferrous metal wastes, certain chemicals, certain construction wastes, treated sewage sludge, treated medical waste , water-based drilling mud, etc.
Russia is currently updating the security and designs of its 10, 50, 100, 1000 and 5000 ruble banknotes. New banknotes are expected to be issued in 2025. Given that in 2018 a commemorative 100 ruble World Cup banknote was printed on a polymer substrate, it is possible that this next generation of banknotes in circulation will also be printed on this material, but this could not be documented at the time of writing.