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Hughes Energy offering a global solution to banknote recycling

Hughes Energy can provide a fully automated banknote recycling solution for Central Banks on a global scale using the Wilson System®.

Hughes Energy and its partners, Wilson Bio-Chemical, the US Department of Agriculture and The Biorenewables Development Centre, an open-access R&D centre at the University of York, have been working on a solution for banknotes that is both environmentally friendly and sustainable.


Our first step was to prove that autoclaving was the right method to return the banknotes to a sterile fibrous state. This has been proven through multiple independently monitored trials carried out by industry experts on various banknote substrates. The next step was to find suitable uses for the fibre remembering that volumes of fibre will differ dependent on the Central Bank volumes. 

We are currently working on a project with the USDA to identify the uses and further updates will be posted once the trial is complete.


Hughes Energy can provide a solution that is secure and simple, with minimal human intervention, thereby adhering to bank standards for security and risk.


Carrying out an independent evaluation of the process, scientists at the Biorenewables Development Centre observed the trials and carried out tests on the material before and after processing. They concluded that the Wilson System® consistently broke down banknotes and converted them to Wilson Fibre, providing a potential route to fully recycle banknotes in an environmentally safe manner.

The USDA has identified potential uses for the type of fibre created by the Wilson process that include:


  • Cellulose nanofibers with many potential end uses and high demand (ton/day)

  • Cellulose for premium packaging such as wine cases

  • Strengthening agent in plastic recycling for building materials and pallets

  • Influence mechanical properties for eco-plastic products

  • Replacement option for natural bioproducts used in composite auto parts

  • Insulation opportunities



The USDA have found that the fibre produced from autoclaved banknotes is ideal because of its high quality and strength.  Finding new uses for old banknotes helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supports the circular bioeconomy. Creating bio products from the autoclaved banknote fibre is cleaner and greener than any recycled cardboard.

USDA researcher, Dr. William J Orts, says, "Steam autoclaved mixed waste has proven very effective in providing uniformly predictable and useable output streams. All steps must be taken to reduce methane emission as it is 85% worse by trapping more heat than other common greenhouse gasses."

HEG offering a global solution to banknote recycling

Billions of banknotes are destroyed across the world each year. Unfortunately, old bills cannot be recycled into new ones. Once shredded, the waste is often sent to incinerators, landfills, or isolation material.

Hughes Energy can provide a fully automated banknote recycling solution with minimal human intervention and environmental impact.

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