The truth of the matter is simple: coins travel around the world every day.
The Royal Mint launched a comprehensive awareness program for the launch of the new £1 coin that included reclamation of the old “round pound”. They engaged not just the public, but also charities across the UK, encouraging them to initiate programs to get these coins back; partly so they could get them out of circulation but also so they could use them to make more of the new coins.
However, their program didn’t consider is the £1 coins in other countries. And why would they? They aren’t going to cover shipping costs to retrieve them. What if charities in other countries collected them and have them sent back? Would that save the Royal Mint some money? Would it keep these old coins out of landfills (because they are no longer circulating)?
What about the organizations handling large amounts of coin in other countries? Transit for example … they receive significant amounts of foreign coin every year, including the old £1 coin. Should they take an operating loss because a rider dropped the wrong coins into the fare box?
It is estimated that the UK has between £900 million and £1.6 billion worth of foreign currency; Canada has roughly $750 million and the US over $10 billion. How many billions worth of foreign currency is just sitting out there in jars and drawers doing nothing? We all have good intentions when we come back from vacation of taking it with us the next time we go, but how many people actually do that?
Including charities in the coin cycle is not only “good” but it will also reduce the requirements for production, thereby saving some cost. Further, it introduces a recycling component, not unlike the Hong Kong Monetary Authority coin recycling initiative, just on a global scale.
Note: As of this writing, the Mirror.co.uk and Charities Aid Foundation are talking about the 145 million old £1 coins still in circulation and what to do with them, donating them being one of the popular options … yet no one has any clue how many of those coins are outside the UK or what to do about that.