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MAS to stop issuing ‘good-as-new’ dollar notes for Chinese New Year 2023 to cut carbon emissions


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SINGAPORE — The central bank of Singapore announced that it will be encouraging the public to use “fit-for-gifting” dollar notes for festive gifting during Chinese New Year next month. It will stop producing and issuing “good-as-new” notes in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Tuesday (Dec 6).

The good-as-new notes are dollar notes that are issued in S$2 denominations during the Chinese New Year period. People celebrating the festival usually place money in a hongbao (red packet) to give away as gifts.

The good-as-new notes, first introduced in 2013, are generally crisp and new-looking when issued, which are what most people want during Chinese New Year, in line with the tradition to have everything new for the new year.

These notes are collected and returned to the central bank right after the Chinese New Year period and processed twice to ensure that only the notes that are of very good quality are re-issued as good-as-new notes the following year. 

In response to TODAY’s queries, MAS said: “The additional round of machine processing for good-as-new notes generates additional carbon emissions (comparable to the emissions for powering 32 four-room government-built flats yearly), making fit-for-gifting notes a more environmentally friendly choice compared to good-as-new notes.”

Fit-for-gifting dollar notes are used currency notes that are of suitable quality for recirculation, including for festive gifting, MAS said in its news release.

The condition of these notes has been verified by banknote processing machines and are similar in quality to notes from automated teller machines (ATMs).

This means that they would be of slightly lower quality compared to good-as-new notes, but are still suitable for recirculation. 

These notes will be clean and devoid of stains and tears, though they may have visible creases on the surface.


This move by MAS is part of an ongoing effort to reduce the environmental impact of producing new notes and extra processing for good-as-new notes.

In December last year, it already put out a statement encouraging the public to gift money during festive occasions via electronic means or to reuse notes. This was also to reduce queues at banks during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.


MAS repeated in its statement this year that it issues about 100 million pieces of new dollar notes a year for the Chinese New Year and other festive periods.

A large majority of these new notes are used only once for gifting and are returned to the central bank shortly after each Chinese New Year.

Most of the returned notes are recirculated to meet public demand, such as to replace unfit bank notes in circulation.

However, the volume of such returned notes far exceeds replacement needs and the excess ones are later destroyed before the end of their useful life, MAS said.

“New notes issued just to meet the demand for festive gifting generate unnecessary carbon emissions and is a waste of resources.

“The carbon emissions from the issuance of excess new notes annually are comparable to powering 430 four-room Housing and Development Board flats annually.


“It would require 10,000 new trees to be planted to offset the emissions.

“The practice of printing new notes for festive gifting and subsequently destroying most of them is not in line with environmental sustainability and Singapore’s aspiration to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as part of the global effort to mitigate climate change,” MAS added.

As part of the move to enhance sustainability, the central bank will progressively cut down on releasing new notes — until the new notes issued during Chinese New Year meets the replacement demand.

Ms Cindy Mok, assistant managing director of finance, risk and currency at MAS, said in Tuesday’s statement: “Starting from this (upcoming) Lunar New Year, let’s use fit-for-gifting notes or e-hongbao instead of new notes.

“In this way, we can convey blessings to our loved ones, while doing our part for a greener and more sustainable future for the next generation.” 


On the push to reuse dollar notes for festive gifting and whether they would be willing to use older notes in the name of sustainability, five Singaporeans interviewed by TODAY said that although they valued tradition, protecting the environment was more important. 


Mr Norman Ng, a senior info-technology executive, said: “I’ve never (used old notes for hongbao) before. I usually use new notes, (because) it is the Chinese tradition. The receivers will not be happy if they see old notes in the hongbao.”

He added that he would use old notes only if they looked new.

Ms Rachel Leung, 50, a part-time human resource executive, said: “I would prefer new notes. It’s just a Chinese tradition to send off the old and welcome the new (during the new year), so it just seems better to give new notes.”

Even though that is her preference, she added that she would be willing to give up new notes for the sake of protecting the planet. “It is not a must to gift new notes, but it’s a must to save the environment.”

For 60-year-old Anne Ong, a customer service executive, the newness of the currency did not matter “so long as the notes are clean and not crumpled”.

The fit-for-gifting notes will be made available for reservation and collection at banks as well as selected pop-up ATMs across the country in an effort to make them more easily accessible to the public.


They will be available in denominations of S$2, S$5, S$10 and S$50.

More details on the distribution of these notes will be made known at the end of the month.

The Chinese New Year festival in 2023 begins on Jan 22 and lasts 15 days. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SAMUEL NG

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