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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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  • John D. 10 hours ago
    They still exist!
  • Susan M. 12 hours 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.
  • Javier M. 14 hours ago
    I wonder if Randolph knows about this?
  • Frank O. 3 months ago
    Thanks for the useful article. I always wash my hands after handling the paper receipts.

    And I have found this article about using thermal receipt paper healthily:
  • Christoph M. 11 months ago
    Recommending to let the store email the receipt to you is questionable. First, there are privacy concerns. If the store has my email address, what else will they do with it, especially when it is combined with transactional information? Second, we should also talk about the carbon footprint of electronical payment solutions. When the energy for running the servers and solutions is produced by nuclear power or fossil resources, the carbon footprint is much bigger, not to mention the raw material needed to produce the digital infrastructure (rare earths, etc.) and the conditions under which the material is collected in third world countries.
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