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Can You Recycle Receipts? Find Out Why You Shouldn’t

Can you recycle receipts? The quickest answer is no. I’ll tell you why and what to do with them instead?

I’ve often been asked “Can you put paper receipts in recycling?”. As they look like paper, it would make sense. But receipts are made from thermal paper which means there’s a chemical in the paper and, therefore, cannot be recycled.

Can You Recycle Receipts? Find Out Why You Shouldn’t

Can You Recycle Receipts? Find Out Why You Shouldn't heading with an image of receipts.

What can you do with old receipts?

A lot of receipts we receive will have some personal information on it; part of your debit/credit card, loyalty card number etc. I’m always conscious of identity theft, and always make an effect to protect my information.

In the reel below, I used my hair straighteners to cover up my card details, you could also use an iron instead. Please ensure none of these equipments are left unattended. No one wants to burn their house down!

How do I get rid of paper receipts?

Sadly, the only thing you can do with them is put them in the general waste bin. As an imperfect environmentalist, it pains me to write this but there is no facility where we can recycle receipts.

I’m afraid, they’ll end up in landfill.

Are receipts compostable?

No, they are not compostable. Thermal receipts are coated in BPA; bisphenol A. It’s a chemical used in plastics manufacturing and there is ongoing research into the health implications of BPA. Composting thermal paper will contaminate your soil. Nobody wants that.

How can I tell if a receipt is printed on thermal paper?

The best way to tell if your receipt is thermal paper is that they’re usually shiny. You’ll be able to tell for sure if you use a hair straightener or iron as it will turn black.

What are the alternatives to receipts?

A lot of places allow you to choose whether you want a receipt or not. If you’re buying an electrical item or clothes, usually your receipt will be act as a guarantee so you will need it. However, if you’re buying bread or eggs, you probably don’t really need a receipt.

Additionally, you can ask for a receipt to be emailed to you (if the store offers this). The only issue I find with this is that you end up on their mailing list, make sure you unsubscribe to their emails, you don’t want emails unnecessarily.

Something I wanted to touch on, from my own experience, is the issue of racial profiling in the UK, particularly in shops. It is a reality and it does happen, whether people want to admit it or not. If this is of concern to you, always take a receipt, even if you’re just buying eggs.

Why are shops printing receipts if they can’t be recycled?

I suspect, it’s to do with cost (like most things in life!) and it’s more convenient. If you think about your printer at home, you need to load it up with paper and ink. For thermal printing, it’s only the rolls that need to be replaced. Thermal printing do not require ink. Therefore, keeps costs low.

I did a reel on Instagram with a visual demonstration of why they can’t be recycled. Hope you find it useful.