Sustainability Explored
3 min readJan 31, 2019


You asked — we answer!

At first glance, receipts seem completely harmless, but there is something wrong with them.

We’ve heard it many times, we’ve been warned that the sales/bank receipts are not good. Some said we shouldn’t touch it, others claimed they shouldn’t be mixed with paper because they are not recyclable. But why exactly? We decided to dig deeper into the issue.


Receipts are printed on thermal paper, a special fine paper that is coated with a material (dye+acid) formulated to change color when exposed to heat. The usual combination of thermal paper content is leuco dye (can switch between two chemical forms, one of which is colorless — that’s why checks and receipts lose color with time) and bisphenol A (BPA), the reactant acid.

Paper rolls

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a problem in this combo.

BPA is a xenoestrogen, a proven endocrine disruptor, exhibiting estrogen-mimicking, hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in some consumer products and food containers.

It enters our bodies through stomach, respiratory system and skin. Skin is, by the way, our biggest organ, so it’s highly recommended not to interact with thermal paper and its little derivatives, like bank checks and cashier receipts.

A: the recycling of thermal paper coated with BPA can introduce this material into the cycle of paper production and cause BPA contamination of other types of paper products.

The issue of BPA, however, doesn’t end at receipts, it expands to a series of other products of our daily use.

Since 2008, several governments have investigated its safety, as a result, US and Canada have completely banned BPA use in baby bottles, as it was found to be emitted during heating, and later affect the gastrointestinal tract, endocrine system, cause cancer, etc.

Where else can BPA be found?

In the plastic water bottles, cans, plastic cutlery (plates, spoons, forks, cups, knives, etc)

What to do?

  1. Read plastic labeling codes. Be advised that BPA-containing plastic is usually marked with the following Resin Identification Codes: 3 (polyvinyl chloride), 6 (styrene), 7 (other, e.g. acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, polylactic acid). The absence of code tells about BPA presence too.

Triangles with 1, 2, 4 or 5 indicate there is no BPA in the product content.

2. Limit canned food or beverage in epoxy cans. If you still buy it, don’t store food in opened cans — change for another container, e.g. glass or ceramic.

3. Don’t heat plastic containers in the microwave, even if the label says you can.

4. Don’t reuse BPA-containing plastic:

4.1. Try not to use the containers for other purposes other than the one for which it is intended. For example, do not pour vegetable oil into a water bottle.

4.2. Plastic water bottles some of us still buy in the supermarkets are not meant for reuse either.

5. Wash your hands after contact with cashier’s checks, ticket receipts and other forms of thermal paper.

And finally, forewarned is forearmed. Don’t panic & don’t take receipts ;)

With love,




Sustainability Explored

Exploring sustainability, corporate responsibility, leadership and culture