Banque de France Bulletin

The environmental footprint of cash activities is a cornerstone of the Banque de France’s commitments

Published on 18 April 2024
Authors : Joëlle Garabed, Célia Grossetti, Emma Gutierrez, Emmanuelle Laplace, Vincent Niemiec, De Pastor Raymond, Isabelle Valdès-Curien

Bulletin No. 250, article 5. In line with the rest of the cash industry, the Banque de France is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of the banknote life cycle, from manufacture to destruction. One of the key measures in its strategy is the “Refondation” project, which covers all Banque de France cash activities and is part of a broader plan to reach net zero.

In December 2023, the European Central Bank concluded that the European cash cycle has a very limited impact on the environment. However, over the past 20 years, efforts to reduce its carbon footprint have intensified.

In France, the national retail payments strategy for 2025-30, due to be announced at the end of 2024, should include a section on environmental challenges. This will allow the Banque de France to move forward more efficiently with other industry participants, in a consolidated and coordinated manner.

Image BDF250-5_EN-The environmental footprint of cash activities is a cornerstone of the Banque de France’s commitments
Energy consumed by the Banque de France in manufacturing secure banknote paper

1. The greening of cash activities: a Banque de France priority

Mindful of its environmental footprint, the Banque de France has committed to lowering its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and has set an initial target of a 15% reduction by the end of 2024. Its climate strategy is consistent with the framework defined by international treaties, notably the 2015 Paris Agreement. It sets out an ambitious low-carbon pathway using all available action levers, and with a first milestone at end-2024, followed by further targets for 2030. The Bank’s decarbonisation strategy is also aligned with the European Union’s “Fit for 55” legislative package, which requires GHG emissions to be cut by at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990.

In 2022, the Banque de France already exceeded its 2024 reduction target relative to 2019: GHG emissions were down 23.6% over a scope comprising energy use, business travel, staff commuting, waste, and fugitive emissions linked to leaks of refrigerant gases from air conditioning systems. In all of these areas, staff engagement is vital to ensure that best practices are applied as broadly as possible. Recent measures to achieve this include incentives to encourage the use of soft transport, and limits on heating and air conditioning use.

To reach its longer-term targets, however, the Banque de France needs to measure the environmental footprint of all its activities (GHG Emissions Assessment or GHGEA, which is governed by article L. 229-25 of the Environmental Code). Its cash activities, which include the manufacture and sorting of banknotes as well as the circulation of banknotes and coins, are industrial in nature, as opposed to its other activities which are tertiary. As a result, they account for nearly half the Bank’s total GHG emissions, as well as having other adverse effects on the environment: depletion of natural resources, pollution, waste production, etc. These activities are therefore a major focus for the Banque de France, as they are for all cash cycle participants. In 2022 and 2023, it notably took steps to lower its energy and resource consumption, and to reduce the environmental impact of its waste treatment. …

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Updated on 18 April 2024