The first paper money was issued in China around A.D. 650 who not surprisingly invented paper in A.D 105.
Until the release of the polymer note, banknote paper was typically made from cotton fibre and linen rag, making it tougher than conventional paper. Water was used to break the cotton down, which was the remanufactured to make reels of paper.
In 1998 Australia was the first country to issue polymer style notes that we know today, with Romania being the first country in Europe to switch to polymer notes in 1999, as well as being the third country in the world to switch entirely to polymer notes by 2003.
After 300 years of using paper based notes and two years of research, the UK switched to polymer through the launch of the five pound note in 2016. It was not widely known but the first polymer notes issued in the UK contained animal fat resulting in a mass petition of over 20,000 people who campaigned about the use of such materials. Such movements were mainly fuelled by vegetarians and vegans who strongly opposed the use of animal fats.