Would you like a receipt?

I get asked this question a lot. Roughly 99.5% of the time I don’t need one and reply ‘No thanks’, as the shop assistant crumples up the already printed receipt and throws it in the bin.

Most receipts are printed on Thermal paper, a special fine paper coated with a chemical acid, often bisphenol A (BPA). Sounds good? Not really.

BPA can transfer to the skin (in small amounts). Although if you work in a store and handle such receipts, bare in mind:

When taking hold of a receipt consisting of thermal printing paper for five seconds, roughly 1 μg BPA (0.2–0.6 μg) was transferred to the forefinger and the middle finger if the skin was rather dry, and about ten times more than this if these fingers were wet or very greasy. Exposure to a person who repeatedly touches thermal printer paper for about ten hours per day, such as at a cash register, could reach 71 micrograms per day, which is 42 times less than the present tolerable daily intake (TDI).

BPA can contaminate recycled paper. The recycling of thermal paper coated with BPS can introduce BPS into the cycle of paper production and cause BPS contamination of other types of paper products.

Thermal receipts also fade completely after a time (which is annoying for receipts you do need to keep), but you can’t (or shouldn’t) even recycle them.

Solution: ask first, print later
STOP automatically printing receipts! Ask first, print only if a customer confirms, or requests it. Receipts should be an opt-in, not automatic-opt-out-throw-in-bin-and-contaminate.


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