The Bank of Estonia (Eesti Pank) wants to stop making 1 cent and 2 cent coins, stating that this would be beneficial for the environment and would not increase inflation. It would also make shopkeepers' jobs easier.
Rait Roosve, head of the cash and infrastructure department at the Bank of Estonia (Eesti Pank), said that Eesti Pank wants to change the price rounding rules, which would eliminate the need for 1 and 2 cent coins.
"There are now two alternatives. The first would be for the European Commission to centrally implement a five-cent rounding rule. Unfortunately, not all countries are on board with this at the time. Although a number of countries, including Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Italy and, most recently, Slovakia, have independently established rounding laws in their respective countries," Roosve said.
Roosve anticipates that the change will be implemented in Estonia within the next year or year and a half.
Each year, the central bank releases a large number of ones and twos into circulation. These account for nearly 60 percent of all coins issued annually.
"After one transaction, this one- and two-cent coin is no longer in circulation. The change is returned to the consumer in the retail sector, at which point the customer no longer chooses to pay with that small penny or abandons the cash circulation," Roosve said.
Since Estonia's adoption of the euro, Eesti Pank has issued 612 tons of 1 and 2 cent coins. Every year, 6.7 million pieces of one-cents and 6 million pieces of two-cents coins are issued.
These red coins are more harmful to the environment than, for example, two-euro coins.
"This coin is extremely difficult to reuse. Because it has a steel core and a thin layer of copper on top, it cannot be recycled like larger coins after they are worn. Larger coins can be melted and reminted. This is not possible with one-cent and two-cent coins. It is more expensive than the value of a one-cent coin because you must separate the steel from the copper, which is a complex and expensive metallurgical process," Roosve said.
The people on the streets of Tallinn who ERR spoke to would not miss the ones and twos either.
"It makes no difference to me if they disappear. I think it might even make it a little easier," 49-year old Marit said.
21-year-old Martin agreed, "Since there are usually a lot of them and they are all tiny and disappear everywhere, why not."
Romili, a 20-year-old service worker, is also in favor of rounding prices.
"As a service worker, I would say that dealing with ones and twos is quite difficult; we continue to receive more and more of them at the register, and getting rid of them can be challenging," Romili said.
Editor: Kristina Kersa