Singapore goes green with Lunar New Year red packets

SINGAPORE Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:02am EST

A view of the central business district (CBD) skyline at dusk in Singapore August 16, 2011. Prominent landmarks such as The Fullerton Hotel (L) and the Esplanade (C) are seen. REUTERS/Clarissa Cavalheiro

A view of the central business district (CBD) skyline at dusk in Singapore August 16, 2011. Prominent landmarks such as The Fullerton Hotel (L) and the Esplanade (C) are seen.

Credit: Reuters/Clarissa Cavalheiro

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Clean and green Singapore is going even greener this Chinese New Year, recycling S$2 bills for red packets of money alongside the printing of new ones.

Giving out the little packets, or "lai see", with crisp new notes during the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 10 this year, is a long-standing tradition. Adults typically give them to children, older relatives and unmarried siblings to wish them good luck for the coming year.

As well as printing millions of brand new $2 notes as it has done in the past, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the wealthy Southeast Asian city-state's central bank, said it will issue older notes that look as good as new and encourage the public to use them.

"The accumulation of excess $2 polymer notes and their destruction before the end of their lifespan is a waste of precious resources and is not environmentally friendly," the MAS said.

Singapore only needs around 50 million $2 notes in circulation. Printing the excess notes just for the Lunar New Year consumes 10 metric tons (11.023 tons) of ink and uses enough electricity to power an entire apartment block for six months, it added.

Most of the notes find their way back into the banks soon after the New Year festivities anyway, as people put them in their savings.

(Reporting by Kevin Lim; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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