From currency to plywood factory: That’s where notes went

Ever wondered what happened to the 18 billion notes worth more than `14 lakh crore that were extinguished following last year’s demonetisation? Well, after being verified, sorted and shredded, the not

Published: 13th November 2017 02:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th November 2017 11:05 AM   |  A+A-

Transactions through debit and credit cards rose by merely seven per cent post demonetisation| AFP File Photo

Image for representational purpose only| AFP File Photo

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Ever wondered what happened to the 18 billion notes worth more than `14 lakh crore that were extinguished following last year’s demonetisation? Well, after being verified, sorted and shredded, the notes were sent to a factory in North Malabar where they were pulped to produce hardboard.

Conventional methods of currency disposal like incineration lead to adverse environmental effects. As an alternative, the Thiruvananthapuram unit of the Reserve Bank of India, which houses one of the 27 shredding facilities operated by the central bank, struck a deal with Western India Plywood Limited (WIPL) in Kannur even before demonetisation to use discarded currency notes in the production of hardboard.

“Our association with RBI is not connected with the note ban. We decided to experiment with currency notes and applied for an RBI tender. We received our first load in October 2016, even before demonetisation,” a spokesperson of WIPL said.

The shredded notes were first handed to recyclers who converted them into briquettes before returning them to the RBI. The currency briquettes were then transported to the yards of WIPL. Made from compressed wood fibre, hardboard is largely used in the construction and furniture industries. Though plywood is the major product of WIPL, they have a separate section for hard and soft board.

Generally, wood chips are pressed to pulp for production of factory hardboard, and currency briquettes were added to the process. Due to the high-quality of paper, Indian currency notes are generally thick and provide strength to the hardwood output. However, because of the same reason, only a small proportion of the briquettes can be used in the production or else the pulp would get ruined.

General manager of WIPL’s hardboard section, Sudhakaran Nair, said the company gets about 900 metric tonnes of notes under the year-long tender. Media reports had said that WIPL pays `250 to RBI for every metric tonne of stock they receive. The WIPL officials chose not to comment on this.

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