Why Receipts are Not Recyclable (and What to Do Instead)

Receipt Pile

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No matter where you go, you are going to come across receipts. It does not matter if you go to the mall or you go to the gas station. Everything you buy comes with that little piece of paper. However, that little piece of paper can pose a problem if left unattended and not takeN care of properly. However, in some places, they will not take your receipt.

Why aren’t receipts recyclable? Receipts cannot all be recycled because they aren’t always made from the same material. Recycling them correctly requires individual testing to see what type of receipt it is. In most areas, recycling agencies will not take receipts and you are left to try and figure out what to do with it.

There are two types of receipts. One is made from recyclable and compostable materials, and one contains a number of toxic chemicals including BPA. The compostable kind are rare. The only way to tell the difference to send them off to a lab to be tested. Unfortunately, in previous tests, there was BPA found in nearly all of the receipts except for approximately 2 percent.

Why Most People Think You Can Recycle Receipts

There is confusion on whether or not you can actually recycle receipts, but it is simply due to the lack of knowledge of the type of paper and ink used to print them. Unfortunately, that is the problem with most of the recycling world. The lack of information and properly labeled places to put recycled items.

What are Receipts Made Of?

Most receipts are made of thermal paper which is a special paper that is coated in chemicals and material so that when the heat hits, it exposes as ink. These types of paper are used in cash registers and your money cards machines such as ATMs, gas pumps, and other machines that accept credit and debit cards.

This is intended to save space inside the machine and be more convenient for the machine owners. They don’t have to refill paper and an ink cartridge. Instead, they just need the paper and the heated type element. Unfortunately, the chemicals in the thermal paper are said to be toxic to people and the environment.

There are several different types of chemicals used in thermal paper. There are dyes, developers, sensitizers, and stabilizers. If you add color, there are even more chemicals added to it, not including the protective coating that is meant to cover it to reduce breakdown or wear and tear upon printing.

BPA and Where You Can Find It

BPA, also known as bisphenol, is one of the most common chemicals in plastics all around the world. It is meant to be tough and resilient to protect against water damage or any other damage that may come with containers, water pipes, DVDs, and so much more. It is one of the most produced chemicals in the world.

BPA, BPS, and Your Health

BPA can be dangerous to one’s health even in low doses. It is known to imitate, block, and damage natural hormones in one’s body, in particular estrogen. This can cause reproductive issues along with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma, and more. BPS is only a substitute for BPA and has slower reactions to our health.

Unfortunately, the body is unable to filter BPA, so once it gets into the body, it is there to stay. With this, it is able to act like a hormone and be accepted as a part of one’s body. Therefore, the body is unable to attack and clear it, which negatively affects your organs. Even with the extensive number of studies that have been done, no one knows for sure how much damage it can do.

Environment Concerns of BPA and BPS

There are not only effects on the human body, but there are concerns to the environment as well, especially to aquatic life. This can include fresh and salt waters where toxins and contaminants get released. These things can cause digestive system problems in sea animals, just like humans, along other health issues. It can also impact their reproduction and behavioral systems. Add all of this up and it can destroy ecosystems.

BPA can harm plants, too. So, while it is breaking down into the ground, it is being soaked up by plants. This can harm the growth in plants and cause disruptions, leading to more BPA toxicity exposure.

What to do With Your Receipts

In simple terms, it needs to be thrown in the garbage. You may check with your local recycling agency, but most do not take it. You may shred it and then throw it in the bin if you are concerned with privacy. You can, however, try and opt for a paperless receipt where they can email or text you a receipt for your purchase. Or simply decline the receipt in the first place.

Going Paperless

If you are a business, you know that going paperless may stir concern among your customers. However, it is better to stir up concern than to continue destroying the earth. By doing this, you can also save money in your company. You would not be spending money on countless rolls of receipt paper that even when not printed, can get jammed up in the machines and become a total waste.

When you go paperless, you not only start helping the planet, you also help clear your own personal space. There is less clutter in your car and your wallet where most of our receipts wind up, especially if you travel a lot. You will also be able to keep track of everything as well if you go paperless and be able to create expense reports if needed.

What if You Need Your Receipt Later?

With the digital programs, you will be able to look them up just by putting a date or keyword in your search bar on your program. In turn, if you run a business you are able to have a more organized clutter-free office space and know that everything is in your program in case it is needed again.

Customers and Receipts

Nine times out of ten, most people do not want a receipt nowadays. The ones that do, own a business, or need some kind of documentation. With this, it can be easy to have them sent to phone numbers and emails. Most stores now days have “club cards” where people have put in their information to the store and they can receive receipts on that card, to their email, or to their phone number.

Making Earth Happy

Ultimately, the goal is to make our earth happy, which in turn helps us and our future generations live longer along with the many diverse and beautiful ecosystems that are included in our big world. It’s up to us to be conscious of every little thing we do and be responsible for our actions. It is about businesses taking into consideration what would be better for our world and how to make a positive difference, rather than continuing to run a business a traditional way.

While it may take a long time before we reach a perfect balance with our environment, we can start by taking small steps. Every little bit counts and it will add up over time. Eventually, these little bits will evolve into large chunks. Then, we will be able to shift the balance to a better way of living and give the world a chance to live healthier throughout all of its ecosystems, inhabitants, and us!

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