Gallery: Warning: Recycling Your Old Receipts Is Contaminating Paper wi...


The Inhabitat team is about to do something we’d never thought we’d do. We’re going to advise you to stop recycling something that is fully recyclable: thermal cash register receipts. It turns out that the ubiquitous receipts — the kind you find at most major department stores, grocery stores, bank machines etc. — contain the nasty cancer causing chemical Bisphenol A or BPA for short. When you recycle the receipts, the BPA that they contain gets tangled up in the paper pulp and then contaminates the recycled paper napkins, toilet paper, plates and cups that come out on the other end of the process.

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  1. Mark Rosenberg September 10, 2013 at 12:21 am

    caeman and preppyystud, from my research it seems like more of the BPA in thermal paper gets into the environment when it’s recycled than when it’s thrown away and dumped in a landfill. The reason is because water is used during the paper recycling process, which then picks up with BPA. And what doesn’t get picked up gets reintroduced with whatever paper material is created during the recycling process. At least when it’s in a landfill the BPA is more or less is confined to that space.

    There’s lots of great articles going into more detail about this is you look on Google.

  2. preppystud June 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    caeman, that is a good point, i didn’t think about that. if we don’t recycle, they will contaminate the landfill or the underground water, etc.

    so it seems that it is better to recycle them.

  3. Concerned Worker January 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

    At my job we try to re-purpose lots of stuff. Can the receipt rollers be re-used for art projects or are they full of BPA to?

  4. earthsaver October 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Wait, I’m confused. You used “thermal” and “ink” in the same sentence. In my experience, thermal printers use heat, not ink, to make images on paper. Also, isn’t there a current transition in the industry moving to BPA-free thermal paper?

  5. caeman October 31, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    So…what do we do with them if we cannot recycle them? We cannot simply throw them away, that lets the BPA get into the wild.

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