Decline Unnecessary Receipts
Shoppers need to be wary of receipts that come on thermal imaging paper, the kind of coated paper that faxes used to arrive on and some cash registers still routinely spit out. Many of these types of receipts are laced with bisphenol A (BPA), the estrogen-mimicking chemical present in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s. The amount the receipts carry isn’t trivial.
“When people talk about polycarbonate bottles, they talk about nanogram quantities of BPA [leaching out],” says John C. Warner, co-founder of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Industry. “The average cash register receipt that uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.” (This means it’s not bound into a polymer, as in polycarbonates, he explains, but is just loose molecules ready for uptake.)
In Warner’s opinion, when it comes to BPA in the urban environment, “the biggest exposure will be these cash register receipts.” Once on the fingers, BPA can be transferred to foods. A 2010 Food and Drug Administration update supports U.S. industry’s actions to stop producing BPA-containing baby bottles and feeding cups and to find alternatives for infant formula cans.
The best bet for now is to minimize acceptance of such receipts, keep them out of kids’ hands and wash hands after touching one. Store them in a separate, zipped plastic bag away from the kitchen and not in a wallet. According to, such receipts are non-recyclable; check with the local municipality for exceptions.