During a deadly cold snap, Hungary’s central bank is helping heat needy humanitarian organizations by pulping wads of old notes into briquettes which is a gesture that had warmed the hearts and bodies of many.
Krisztina Haraszti, the head of a centre for autistic children in the impoverished north-eastern town of Miskolc said “It’s a very useful charitable act, a vital aid for our foundation because we can save part of our heating costs.”
She said that this is a “considerable sum in this time of crisis” which provided aid to autistic adults, and saved them between 50,000 and 60,000 forints (€180-€200) a month.
For the last four years, the central bank has been converting unusable notes into briquettes.
Since September the centre for autistic children have been receiving compressed old notes, and on Tuesday a truck from the central bank’s cash logistics centre arrived to unload four tons of old notes.
This monthly delivery is expected to continue until March of April.
Haraszti said that there “one only needs to add a few bits of wood and the rooms are really warm.”
“Our examination showed that the heating properties of these shredded currency briquettes are similar to brown coal so they are pretty useful for heating … and resolve the problem to find fuel” said the head of the central bank’s cash logistics centre, Barnabas Ferenczi.
The centre decided to compress the notes into briquettes for better heating efficiency, as when the initiative started the notes were simply burnt.
“Approximately, 200 billion Hungarian forints are turned into briquettes that are useful for heating in poor regions.
“For the central bank, corporate social responsibility is an important thing. That’s why we thought that since we destroy approximately 40 or 50 tons of currency every year, this thing can be useful for charities that have a problem finding fuel for burning.”
To make a single 1kg briquette it takes about 5 million forints (€17,000). No chemicals are added and the notes are cut into pieces of 1 to 5 millimetres and then the paper is compressed.
The central bank withdraws about a quarter of the notes in circulation every year, and replaces unusable or old currency with new money.