Are receipts recyclable?

Most receipts in Australia can not be recycled or composted. 

For example receipts from Woolworths and Coles cannot be recycled. However, if your receipt is printed on paper, like from some convenience stores, these can be recycled. 

Why? 

Most receipts are made from thermal paper, which is not recyclable. When you ask yourself ‘if receipt paper recyclable’, it’s only normal - it feels like paper and looks like paper! But it isn’t paper … Thermal paper is a slightly shiny, smooth paper that uses heat instead of traditional ink to print. This process uses BPA (biphenol A) which is
a) difficult to remove during the paper-recycling process 
b) it's used in plastic manufacturing and
c) has been linked to negative health effects 

What do I do? 

Where possible, you can opt for an e-receipt or say ‘no’ to the physical receipt. Major supermarkets such as Woolworths have settings on the app, or on your online profile to avoid all paper receipts. 

Always check with your local council! 

So, now we throw a little spanner in the works. I have already said that most receipts in Australia cannot be recycled or composted, however, always check with your local council.

For example, City of Glen Eira does allow you to recycle your thermal paper receipts in kerbside recycling. It will vary from council to council, but go to your local council’s website and go to the ‘Recycling’ section, if this can’t be found try and search for it in the search bar. If you are unsuccessful - send them an email! Most councils (that I have enquired with for recycling) have been very prompt in responding to enquiries. And, if you can’t reach them in a suitable time - you can always follow up with them on their social media. I hope this blog helps you understand if receipts/thermal paper is recyclable. 

Summary

Ok, so as a quick summary: 

  • Most thermal receipts are not recyclable because of the BPA
  • Check with your local council if they accept thermal receipts
  • Paper receipts i.e. not smooth/shiny paper can be recycled

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