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Because You Asked

Can I Recycle Receipts Made of Thermal Paper?

By Recyclebank |

There’s more than one reason to be careful with your receipts, but complications with recycling thermal paper are a big one.


Updated On 07/10/2018 | Originally Published On 07/18/2015

Dear Recyclebank: Can I recycle my receipts? Most of them are thermal paper. If not, what can I do with them instead? –Jesse M.

Dear Jesse: The most common type of receipt paper is thermal paper. This slightly shiny, smooth paper contains chemicals that allow printing via heat transfer, rather than with ink, but it also poses health concerns. One of chemicals thermal paper relies on is bisphenol A (BPA), which is a health concern due to studies indicating that BPA is a “reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant in animal studies” and may disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates hormones. A 2011 study found that 94 percent of receipts tested contained BPA, and that receipts alone contributed an estimated 33.5 tons of BPA to the environment every year in the United States and Canada.

Because BPA may be tough to remove during the paper-recycling process, and can find its way into new recycled paper products, many areas require you to keep thermal paper out of your recycle. Check with your local waste hauler to see if they have rules about it, but if in doubt, keep your receipts out of the recycling bin.

Try to reduce the number of receipts that you collect in the first place.

If paperless e-receipts are an option, consider having one emailed to you instead of getting a printout. Otherwise, ask your cashier if you can forgo the receipt entirely, then track the purchase manually or with a mobile app, for your budgeting. If you’re a regular at a local business, you may even want to explain the risks and issues of thermal paper and ask if traditional receipt paper and ink would be a workable option for them.

And if you still wind up with thermal paper receipts? Trash them if your hauler doesn’t accept them.

SOURCES:, Mayo Clinic, New York Times,


How do you handle your receipts and purchase tracking? Let us know in the comments.

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  • TINA F. 18 days ago
    There are many apps that give points for pictures of your store receipts. Points can be converted into gift cards or small items. I get extra value from my receipts by scanning them, and donating my rewards to charitable organizations.
  • bunni r. 1 month ago
    If it is an important receipt, I make a copy of it before it fades away to nothingness.
  • Jan F. 1 month ago
    Funny way to recycle, but it works. I keep a "junk journal" and as I write in my daily adventures, I glue these in my notebook. The junk journals will all eventually end up in a burning pit to get rid of them.
  • Javier M. 2 months ago
    "Can we get some new articles? There is a lot going on around the globe and I am positive you can come up with something newer than 5 years old. " (Not my thoughts, just passing on a message from Karen.)
  • tommy b. 2 months ago
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