Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, has formally announced that Britain will switch to using plastic banknotes in 2016, ending 320 years of paper money, reports the Guardian.
The Bank said it would introduce "polymer" notes, as it prefers to call them, in two years' time, starting with the new £5 note featuring Winston Churchill in 2016 and the Jane Austen £10 a year later.
Speaking at a press conference in the Bank's Threadneedle Street headquarters, Carney said: "Our polymer notes will combine the best of progress and tradition. They will be more secure from counterfeiting and more resistant to damage while celebrating the history and tradition that is important both to the Bank and the nation as a whole."
Laboratory tests showed polymer banknotes only begin to shrink and melt at 120C, so they would fare better in washing machines but could be damaged by a hot iron.