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Recycling Receipts
January 5, 2010 - 6:24 pm

I got this information from…..-go-green/

First the eco-stats regarding receipts: In the United States, alone, 220,000 tons of receipt paper are produced each year. One ton of paper is equivalent to seventeen trees. Simple math…those 220,000 tons of U.S. receipt paper require the use of 3,740,000 trees every year. (Receipts don’t just grow on trees, afterall; they’re made of trees!)

How do I go about recycling receipt paper? If your city has a recycling program, most likely one of the containers you receive for recycling is for “mixed paper”. Mixed paper usually means: carbonless copy paper, white and colored computer paper, receipt paper, manilla and white envelopes, sticky notes (yes you can! even with the little sticky!), card stock (like business cards, or invitations), shredded paper, notebook paper, newspaper, magazines, paper bags, coupons, egg cartons, gift wrap (no metallic/foil), cereal boxes, books (no hardcovers) and the like.

So the answer is…you can recycle your receipts along with the mixed paper recyclers either at home or the office.

Angry Beaver
January 5, 2010 - 7:17 pm

Not quite. This item was discussed on Grist.…..s-and-more

Dear Umbra,

Q. Can I recycle my receipts? I’m worried that the type of paper they’re printed on will contaminate the regular paper I’m recycling.


Richmond, Va.

A. Dearest Bad,

What a good question as we approach Holiday Shopping Madness. I can say with nearly 100 percent confidence that you cannot recycle your receipts—at least, those printed on thermal paper, which is the sort of shiny, sheeny paper that faxes used to arrive on. (Remember faxes?) However, as with all such “can I recycle this or that” questions, I’ll advise you to doublecheck with your municipality. Two more things on the receipt front, one creepy, one promising. The creepy one is that some receipts are coated with BPA, the estrogen-mimicking chemical found in baby bottles and can linings. At present, the best advice for avoiding this form of BPA exposure seems to be to decline receipts when you can, and wash your hands after handling them when you can’t. Now for the more promising news: I’ve been hearing about a business model in which you, the customer, can associate your debit card with an e-mail account and request digital receipts, so instead of ending up with a pocket full of non-recyclable thermal paper, you end up with an inbox full instead. Many people seem to be trying this notion, but I have not located one good, central resource that’s figured out how to get it up and running—readers, any insights?

Beth Terry
409 Posts
January 6, 2010 - 9:44 am

I love the digital receipt idea. The Apple Store has already been doing this for a while. (Not that I shop in the Apple Store very much — but a few years ago after I got my iPod I seemed to be in there all the time.) Anyway, in an effort to shorten the checkout process, they’d have store clerks with hand held devices approach customers in line and ask if they were using a credit card and whether they could wait until they got home for a receipt. Then, they would check you out using their little device and your receipt would be waiting for you in your email.

Also, when I read your post, I was going to mention the thing about BPA on the thermal paper, which is what most receipts are made from these days. They have found traces of BPA in recycled toilet paper, in fact. And I believe it’s because of coated papers that get mixed in to the paper recycling stream. So my conclusion would be to minimize paper receipts as much as possible, and then toss those you do have in the regular garbage.

February 9, 2010 - 9:28 pm

I read Umra’s post a while back and immediately stopped putting suspicious reciepts in the recycling bin. Now I am using the backs of these receipts for to do and shopping lists before I put them in the garbage bin. Or I guess I should say some of them – there are just to many – I don’t need that much note paper.

I particularly hate the extra long receipts from stors like Lowe’s and Sears that have volumes of unwanted information and survey offers. But PCC Markets here in the Seattle area started using a system that prints on both sides of the paper. If you have to have a receipt at least it’s very efficient!

Beth Terry
409 Posts
February 10, 2010 - 2:34 am

When I’m paying cash for something consumable that I’m unlikely to return to the store, I’ll ask for no receipt. Or even if I’m paying with a credit card, if it’s a small amount that I don’t really need to worry about, I’ll ask for no receipt. This is if there is a choice of having the receipt printed or not. Better not to generate it in the first place. And let me tell you, as an accountant, I find it very difficult to go without a receipt. But I’m getting over that hang up!

February 11, 2010 - 11:01 pm

We don’t have income tax in Washington state, only sales and property tax. Finally (!), a few years ago it became possible for us to deduct sales tax on our federal tax form. There is a default amount you can claim without saving the receipts, but some years I can claim more in actual sales tax paid than the default allows me. So I save my receipts (and enter them all into the computer). Bah! I would love to say “no receipt please.”

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