Can Receipts Be Recycled?

You may have said that you didn’t want a receipt at checkout, but one certainly got printed. And now you’re stuck with it. But it’s paper, right? Can’t it just be recycled? I wish!

About half of the receipts we receive in supermarkets, restaurants and boutiques are printed on a shiny, thermal material. It looks like paper and tears like paper, but because it’s made from multiple materials that cannot be separated from one another, receipt paper is unrecyclable.

In addition, rather than being printed with ink, receipt paper uses BPA chemicals that react to heat to reveal markings on the paper. Through the recycling process these materials, which have been linked to cancer, pre-mature puberty, obesity and type 2 diabetes, could be released into the air and become breathable. BPA-coated receipts may also contaminate recycled paper, only increasing human exposure to BPA. No good.

So what should you do with your paper receipts?

Well, you have two options:

  1. Throw them away. It sounds simple, but receipts really add up and our landfills are already overburdened.
  2. Opt for a digital receipt, as often as you can.

If the stores you frequent don’t offer digital receipts by email, encourage the managers of those establishments to invest in technologies that allow them to offer electronic receipts and leave toxic, unrecyclable receipt paper behind. You may have to get out of your comfort zone, but asking for better, more environmentally responsible decisions to be made is your right as a consumer. Use that right for good!

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