by Björn Schöpe
March 13, 2012 – Every year cold snaps cost many lives, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Hence four years ago Hungary’s Central Bank decided in an (until now) unique idea to have a share in reducing the heating costs of charities. Approximately a quarter of the banknotes in circulation worth 200 billion forints (800 million euros) is withdrawn each year. Instead of simply burning the money the Central Bank converts it into 40 to 50 tons of briquettes and donates them to charity organisations.
This year a part of the briquettes is given to a centre for autistic children in the north-east of Hungary. Krisztina Haraszti the head of the centre says that thus they save between 50,000 and 60,000 forints (around 180 to 200 euros) each month since last Septembre: “It’s a very useful charitable act, a vital aid for our foundation because we can save part of our heating costs.” In addition an association dealing with handicapped children in the city of Vésztö in the South-East receives briquettes, too.
In the meanwhile the Central Bank has purchased special machines to produce the briquettes in their own facilities. Of course this procedure is held under tight security as well. One needs approximately five million forints (17,000 euros) to produce one 1-kilo-briquette that shows heating properties similar to those of brown coal. Until the paper money has turned into fuel material the workers have to wear pocketless clothes.
You can read a full article on the topic here.
Images are available here.
Here you can find withdrawn banknotes that may be changed into new forints – provided that they have not been pulped into briquettes.