Can I Recycle … receipts from stores?

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Plain paper receipts printed with ink are largely a thing of the past, having been replaced by a shinier, coated variety called thermal paper. The paper is embedded with chemicals that interact when heated in machines such as thermal printers for cash registers, causing a color dye to darken in the receipt.

In Los Angeles, cash register receipts made from thermal paper are not recyclable and should be placed in the black trash bin. The Bureau of Sanitation recommends that residents seal the receipts in garbage bags or combine them with other pieces of trash so they don’t float away.
Although many cities recycle thermal paper receipts because they make up so little of the paper recycling stream, they are not ideal for recycling because they contain contaminants and decrease the value of the higher-grade paper with which they are mixed. Some brands of thermal paper also use bisphenol-A, or BPA, to develop the dyes in the receipts.


Although BPA has not been proved to be harmful in humans, recent studies have raised concerns with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration, which have taken steps to help reduce human exposure. L.A.’s Bureau of Sanitation is monitoring information about the potential effects of BPA on public health and the environment. Pending evaluation, it may change the way it handles thermal paper receipts.

Because policies and recommendations can vary from city to city, each week we ask a sampling of officials from various municipalities to weigh in too. Can you recycle thermal paper receipts in ...

Manhattan Beach? Yes

Pasadena? Yes

Pomona? Yes

Santa Monica? Yes

West Hollywood? Yes

-- Susan Carpenter


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