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8 Jan, 2010 09:07

Old money gets put to use

After banknotes have run their course, they are mostly destroyed and thrown away. However, one company has come up with a greener way of handling worn out money.

Recycled banknotes turn into everything from egg cartons to dog kennels, at least for the dog of George Kusters, CEO of Kusters Engineering, which provides central banks all over the world with money shredding machines.

“By destroying money we make money. Very stupid.”

The average lifetime of a banknote is about 2 years but it depends on denomination. The lifespan of a dollar bill is about eight months. Russia’s lowest denomination banknote, 10 Roubles, has an even shorter life of no more than half a year

From birth, squeezed out of printing machine, to serving as the lifeblood of the economy and finally meeting its end, these notes are cut and pressed by the Central Bank into briquettes made from millions of banknotes, and then go to a landfill.

But that’s in Russia. Is there life after death in other countries? Kusters says there can be.

“This brief case is just for fun of course – but we did special construction material so you can make new furniture, floors. We did it Holland, but volumes were not enough to make it commercially viable."

Many countries recycle shredded banknotes to make cardboard and rough packaging. They are even used in vermiculture – old banknotes are fed to worms which then produce fertilizer.

But for Russia’s 10 Rouble Note, it’s the end of the line in more ways than one. They’re wearing out so quickly, the central bank is replacing them with the new 10 Rouble coin.