There are some types of receipt paper that are extremely recyclable; however, thermal paper can present a few challenges at the recycling facility. Getting to know a bit more about how to safely dispose of this type of paper can ensure you don’t take any action that would be harmful to the environment now, or down the road.

Even now, in the digital age, there is no question that paper receipts are still a huge part of daily life. After most purchases, you receive a small piece of white paper that provides you evidence of buying groceries, eating out, filling up your gas tank, or something else. However, you may not realize how these small, seemingly insignificant pieces of paper can impact a landfill. Take a minute to account for the transactions you make in a single week, month, or even over the course of a year – chances are you’ll get the idea.

The question you have to find an answer to is, “are receipts recyclable?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always black and white, and this is one of those situations. It really depends. Much like any other gray area in the world of recycling, paper is no exception. To fully understand the answer to this topic, you have to break it into two paper types:

  • Thermal paper

  • Regular white paper

Today, there are several merchants that use thermal paper, rather than traditional white paper with ink, because the thermal paper doesn’t require the use of any ink. This makes it faster, more affordable, and quieter to print the necessary receipts. When this method of printing is used, letters and numbers just look like they magically appear on the paper. This is because the paper is sent over a thermal print head. The chemical coating present on the paper burns the proper areas on the receipt, which produces the image.

Generally speaking, most recycling facilities can easily take traditional, white, paper and ink receipts. However, thermal paper receipts are a bit trickier. Since thermal receipts include certain chemicals for producing the images, the paper can’t be recycled at the plant with other paper, which means a separate system is needed. Make sure to ask at the local recycling center if they accept thermal paper. If not, the only other option is to throw it in the trash.

Thanks to the innovation of new technology; however, there are thermal paper options that are considered recyclable. One type is the thermal paper that is BPA free. This is one of the main chemicals that makes thermal paper unable to be recycled. If you purchase and use BPA-free options, then you can recycle the receipt paper without issue.

Not all suppliers provide thermal receipt paper that can be recycled. Make sure to check with your seller prior to making a purchase if you want to feel confident that you are buying an eco-friendly option. When you do this, it can help you enjoy all the benefits offered by thermal printers, while not adding to the excess waste present in landfills today.