Every small step we take carries a significant after-effect on our future. Just like that, every small effort counts for a better environmental-friendly lifestyle by improvising little things in our life. Today, we are at an ATM trying to get out some cash and a complimentary receipt that is smooth and glossy. Sounds familiar?
Well, this daily life activity has a giant behind-the-scenes, which can save and affect the environment in different ways.
Can we recycle receipts?
We can recycle receipts, but we should not recycle them. Receipts are significant proofs of each commercial transaction you do; hence, there’s hardly any chance that you end up without getting a receipt. On common ground, papers are considered recyclable and compostable so are the receipts.
Here, we are hit by the truth and the twist!
Receipts are recyclable, but you should not recycle them or compost them if you are someone who loves our home, our planet. This reading segment explains to you ‘if yes, then why not’ behind the receipt world.
Why should you not recycle receipts?
If you have noticed, the receipts you receive for transactions you make are shiny and glossy. These receipts are generated from the thermal printing process and are based on chemical composition, which is harmful to nature.
Chemical composition of thermal receipts
Sellers are bound to print receipts to maintain records that knowingly or unknowingly affect the environment. Although recycling balances critical sustainability situations to some extent, thermal receipts contain harmful chemical bisphenol-A or bisphenol-S that signifies severe health conditions. You can not remove those chemicals from the paper even after recycling. Instead, we must dispose of them carefully so our local waste management corporation can dump them in a secured place.
How to identify recyclable receipts?
Receipts can be categorized into- plain paper material and thermal receipts.
Worldwide, receipts are still issued on paper material that is eligible for recycling, and you can choose to drop these receipts at any recycling station. The most efficient way to dispose of receipts is to put them in the recycling bin.
However, the papers that go through thermal printing are composed of chemicals and other ingredients, which gives them their characteristic shiny and smooth finish. Recycling thermal receipts is definitely not a sustainable way for so many reasons.
‘Dangers’ of thermal receipts
Receipts are an integral part of our lifestyle, securing proof for whatever we spend. However, the chemical coating of Bisphenol-A or Bisphenol-S comes wrapped with an array of risks.
If the receipt trash enters marine life, it worsens the condition. The plasticity of these receipts can accumulate and disturb the life balance underwater, and Aquatic organisms can gulp it and can die a painful death.
Health hazards associated with thermal receipts
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a harmful plastic component that leads to several health issues. BPA-coated thermal receipts are responsible for the following issues-
· Weak immunity
· Disturbs normal growth and development
· Hormonal imbalance
· Prolonged effects might cause cancer
Effects of BPA on the environment
The wail and hail of BPA affect the environment in all possible negative manners. Composting and recycling are two major options we choose to get rid of waste in a nature-friendly way.
However, with thermal receipts, none is possible. Recycling will release BPA into the remaining heap and will contaminate the whole batch, and this will further add to prepared recycled products and increase the risk of health issues.
Composting provides direct access to degrade soil health, which has a high chance of entering the food chain. Also, this releases harmful BPA into water bodies, and burning them is even worse as it contaminates the atmosphere. Hence, any of these two methods are not suitable for the environment.
How to dispose of receipts?
Now, the question is how to get rid of these receipts that find a place in your handbags and wallet often. The amount is huge if we calculate the number of people making active transactions. BPA or BPS coated receipts can be replaced, but since they can’t be recycled, the best way to dispose of them is to put them into the trash.
You can consult local recycling platforms to know the best possible way to locate and drop receipt trash. Chemical exposure needs to be managed effectively until it exists, but if we opt for better alternatives, it will help the people generating receipts.
The receipt world and its consequences
These machine receipts or thermal receipts are generated to serve the purpose of information regarding returns and refunds. The number of receipts printed and disposed of can be considered a nightmare that leads to destruction and chemical exposure.
Millions of trees, gallons of water and oil, and equivalent chemicals are consumed by the United States to produce a yearly receipt supply. Digital options are safer and protect trees from mass cutting, but the traditional method of receipts still seems promising for a large population.
However, we can’t deny the fact and problems arising due to environmental imbalance such as desertification, soil erosion, floods, and climate change.
How to solve Receipt usage?
BPA or BPS involved in the thermal receipts is a transferable chemical; hence, you can say it’s ‘contagious’ to any plain ordinary paper. First of all, register yourself for email receipts, if possible. Try to prevent receipt generation wherever you can to save yourself and others from dermal absorption of bisphenol-A.
‘Break the chain’ by putting receipts in the trash to stop further contamination of toxins into recycled products.
Don’t keep thermal receipts in any common area of your handbag or wallet, so stop the further transfer.
We still need to find safer and eco-friendly options and put them in trash bins.
Also, why don’t we make efforts to make people aware of that? Sounds like a plan!
Alternatives of receipts
Receipts are printed at the speed of light, which is increasing extensively. Using paper for the purpose of receipts and other single-use products directs us towards the issue of deforestation. Studies suggest that more than 90% of receipts contain chemicals like BPA and BPS, which might increase in the future if we don’t plan our actions right now!
Since the percentage of dermal exposure is high in thermal receipts, it is best to avoid it. Digital receipts can be a far better choice to organize your budgets and transactions as compared to thermal receipts.
A rare option can be choosing phenol-free papers or ordinary plain paper that can be further utilized in composting or recycling. But then, that’s a rare option, and specific choices are tough to find!
Change begins at home; healthier options are costlier nowadays, both financially and in terms of availability and quality. Sustainable alternatives decrease health hazards caused due to chemical exposure, help the environment with improvised health, and can significantly decrease deforestation.
Thermal receipts can be steadily replaced by electronic receipts, phenol-free products, or plain paper. And if it’s still thermal, then don’t recycle, reuse, compost, or burn receipts to eradicate. Just trash them!