BPA in thermal paper officially banned in the European Union
Author: Rachael Ridley
As of the 2nd of January 2020, thermal paper (commonly used to make till receipts) with a Bisphenol A (BPA) concentration equal to or higher than 0.02% can no longer be sold in Europe, effectively banning its use1. The Regulation was backed by a committee of member state officials in 2016, allowing businesses until the beginning of 2020 to make the transition to BPA-free thermal paper.
What is BPA?
BPA is a cheap and easily accessible industrial chemical widely used in a range of everyday products, including for the coating on thermal paper till receipts. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can interfere with the system in the human body responsible for producing hormones. There are concerns that frequent exposure to the chemical may have negative health impacts, most notably in regard to reproductive health effects among retail workers. BPA also has the potential to negatively impact our environment as it is not readily biodegradable, which could lead to it accumulating in the food chain or waterways.
Is it regulated in Australia?
Despite concern over the use of BPA in baby bottles in Australia (until it was eventually voluntarily phased out by major Australian retailers in 2010), its use in thermal paper is not regulated. This means the majority of thermal paper till receipts currently in use contain chemicals of concern, including BPA, that could be harmful to our health and the environment.
Are there safer substitutes?
BPA is increasingly substituted for its chemical counterpart replacement Bisphenol S (BPS), which is currently being investigated by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). Due to its similar chemical structure, BPS is likely to present the same risks to those posed by BPA. Switzerland recently became the first country in Europe to prohibit both BPA and BPS in thermal paper2.
Phenol-free and chemical-reaction-free colour developing options have been implemented by some thermal paper suppliers to move away from BPA and BPS. Planet Ark has partnered with Alliance Paper, a Queensland-based supplier of specialised paper products, to help businesses transition to till receipts that are safer for workers, consumers and the environment, including phenol-free and chemical-reaction-free till receipts.
What can I do?
- If you are a business owner and want to protect your employees and customers from potentially harmful chemicals by transitioning to safer till receipts, contact us for more information.
- If you are a retail worker and are concerned about exposure to BPA through handling till receipts, ask your employer or manager who their supplier of thermal paper is and if the paper is BPA and BPS free. You could also consider wearing gloves when handling till receipts.
1EU Regulation 2016/2235
Author: Rachael RidleyRachael joined Planet Ark in 2019 after eight years working in media and publishing as a producer, editor and writer. Rachael is excited to use her skills in content creation and communication to instigate positive environmental behaviour change.
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