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Interactive graphic: The secret life of Canada's money

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A customer spends money in a store.

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Cash that is not circulated back into the money system, as change, is sent to the bank as deposits where it is sorted, checked for fakes, and counted and damaged bills are weeded out. Money that is not needed immediately is sent to the Bank of Canada.

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The Bank of Canada further sorts and counts bills and checks for counterfeits, using special high-speed machines. Fake money is set aside and sent off to the RCMP counterfeit lab for processing. Also, fake notes found in circulation are investigated by police.

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At the bank, genuine banknotes are sorted between usable and damaged. Usable bills are counted, sorted, bundled and repackaged to be delivered to banks to be recirculated.*

*A typical paper $5 and $10 bill lasts one to two years before it is replaced. A $20 bill lasts three to four years and a $100 bill lasts seven years. However, polymer notes last 2.5 times as long as paper.

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Damaged banknotes, including those with excessive writing on them or those that are torn or taped, are removed from circulation and sent to large, secure furnaces inside the Bank of Canada where they are burned.**

**Polymer banknotes will be shredded and the plastic recycled into items such as flower pots.

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Bills that are removed from circulation are replaced with fresh bills and the cycle begins again. Canada's most recent series of paper money cost 9 cents per bill to make. A polymer bill costs 19 cents.


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