Digital red packets are a greener alternative for Chinese New Year gifting

Singapore. Planning on giving new banknotes for the Chinese New Year? Consider digital red packets or fit-for-gifting notes as a greener alternative. This announcement came from MAS as part of their effort to promote environmental sustainability.

“Fit notes are used currency notes that are generally clean and of suitable quality for recirculation, including for festive gifting,” stated MAS, adding that the condition of the notes was verified by banknote processing machines. These notes are also similar in quality to notes from automated teller machines.

To motivate Singaporeans to purchase digital red packets, MAS will stop issuing good-as-new S$2 notes in time for the coming Chinese New Year and other festivities. The said notes generate more carbon emissions due to its additional processing.

“These notes are processed twice by MAS to ensure that only good quality good-as-new notes are harvested and reissued for the next Chinese New Year,” according to MAS.

Each Chinese New Year and other festive periods, around 100 million new notes are issued. The majority of these notes are only used for gifting before they are returned to the authority.

“While most of the returned notes are recirculated to meet public demand, such as to replace unfit notes in circulation, the volume of such notes far exceeds replacement needs. The excess notes are subsequently destroyed before the end of their useful life,” according to MAS.

The new notes are comparable to powering 430 four-room HDB flats. It would need 10,000 new trees to be planted to offset these emissions. Considering this, it’s not in line with Singapore’s target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

For those who prefer to gifting physical red packets, fit-for-gifting notes are a better option instead of new notes.

MAS is also set to work closely with banks to make fit notes more accessible for people. Towards the end of the year, it will provide additional details on the reservation and exchange of the fit notes.

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