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Shound Pennies Be Made From Recycled Plastic?

In the United States, it cost more to make a penny than it’s work!

“It costs almost 1.7 cents to make a penny,” said U.S. Mint director Ed Moy.  See original 2008 article here: Penny Problem.

Since it cost more to make a penny, why not start to make the pennies out of recycled plastic?

Plastic Penny
Plastic Penny

Think of the environmental benefits, those alone would be huge and since we would use recycled plastics, it wouldn’t add to the current supply of plastic in landfills and dumps, not to mention the amount dumped into the ocean like it was some type of huge liquid landfill (See Invisible war against our oceans).

Oh sure, such a program would cost more than making the penny out of plastic directly, but using recycled plastic would still be a huge decrease in the cost of the creation of pennies vs using metal, if we are smart about it…

In ways, I think it’s sad that inflation has been so rampant in past years that it has decreased the value of a penny so that it’s practically an inconvenience to have instead of an item that is considered valuable.  I often wish there was a way to make a penny more valuable again, without incurring some type of drastic natural deflationary process that would hurt our economy instead of helping it.  Too bad there wasn’t a way that the government could do a strategic deflationary process…  Such a process would decrease the cost of items bought while giving everybody a boost by enabling the current currency that they own to be worth more.

Perhaps the strategic deflationary process would happen every 50 years?  It would have to be rare because it would be disruptive overall.

I wonder if I’ll live to see that time when eventually the 1 dollar bill falls to inflation to the point where it’s considered an inconvenience to carry?  Probably by that point all US coins (be it metal or plastic) would be considered to expensive to create…  But in the current time, I think the creation of plastic coins is something to be considered (although hated I’m sure, perhaps if it’s done right the color could make it look like copper).

Interesting times we live in…




21 Responses to Shound Pennies Be Made From Recycled Plastic?

  1. I just don’t see this happening. A plastic coin would just feel cheap and unofficial. They’re much more likely to just drop the penny altogether. It just doesn’t make sense to spend a bunch of money to start producing the penny with other methods.

    • The beauty would be that it would server two purposes. 1.) create a cheaper penny that it cost to produce, and 2.) cut down on the plastic waste that the US is producing and poisoning the oceans with.

  2. Plastic coins! That would feel like some game currency. But I can see the value of it. It will tremendoulsy reduce the cost. Pennies have come to become an annoyance now. You end up collecting so many of them but barely use them.

  3. A number of states issued tokens in the 1930s and into the 1940s denominated in mills (tenths of a cent) and intended to facilitate payment of newly-enacted state sales taxes at levels smaller than one cent.

    These tokens were made of a variety of materials, including copper, brass, paper, cardboard, fiber, aluminum, zinc, plastic and wood.

    Tax tokens felt cheap and they were cheap. Some tax tokens, such as the 5-mill denomination, were worth more at the time than our penny is worth today.

    So yes, we’ve already done plastic and it worked then so it should work today.

  4. Thanks a lot for posting such an interesting blog article. If Penny Coins are made with recycled plastic on a regular basis then it would be very Economical as well as Eco-Friendly for the Government and it’s people.

  5. How well would plastic live up to the regular wear and tear that metal coins go through over the years. I still get wheat pennies from change every now and then.

    I say we follow Canada and drop the penny altogether.

    • I guess we could always go with an even cheaper type of metal too… It’s a shame to see the penny lose it’s value. To me, dropping the penny seems like money loses some of the logic of the valuation system. It’s like counting 1 to 10, but deciding to ignore the number 2 lol. Defies logic kind of deal.

  6. Personally, I think it’s time to say goodbye to the penny in the U.S., like they’re about to do in Canada. And I think we should get rid of the dollar bill too and strictly use $1 and $2 gold coins. The pennies and the dollar bills cost way more to make than they’re worth, in my opinion.

    • Hmmm, I think having gold coins creates an entirely new problem in itself. Gold has easily been outpacing our fiat money system in these past few years. I could see people starting to melt their gold coins and selling them since the gold value would be worth more than the face value.

  7. Recycled plastic pennies wouldn’t hold up in the dryer when you forget them in your pants. Plus, it would be too easy to counterfeit.

    I’d ditch the penny altogether or take cost out of the metal process further if possible. Didn’t they used to be all copper, and then went to a cheaper solution?

    We happen to have a currency manufacturer in town and one of the senators was talking about not getting rid of certain currency to keep our local economy going…I hate those kinds of dumb decisions. Yes, let’s keep losing money so that we can keep those state workers at the mint employed. Isn’t there a better way to keep those workers employed?

    • I’ve been (passively) thinking about the plastic pennies idea and think I’ve come up with a better one that I’ll post about in the future.

  8. i would be in favor of eliminating the penny altogether.. it wont be long before our financial transactions are 100% electronic, regardless.