It has recently been brought to our attention that certain news media are resurrecting a decade-old story on the use of BPA (bisphenol-A) in receipts. These outlets note that BPA and/or BPS (bisphenol S) was found in a sampling of receipts and are asking about the “potential” health risks associated with the handling of receipts.
First, the very premise of this campaign is false and misleading.
The advocates (and those with whom they are speaking in the media) conveniently ignore important distinctions between the two chemicals.
BPA has been widely studied as a chemical and is subject to strict regulations, such as Proposition 65 in California, banning its use in receipts. The US paper industry has already shifted away from BPA receipts, as much as a decade ago. The companies our Association represents have already eliminated BPA receipts from their paper receipt products. Additionally, paper containing BPA typically comes from China, where significant antidumping and countervailing duties are applicable by law. Thus, if BPA has been found, it is from a source which is not only violating BPA free requirements, but also avoiding lawful duties, harming US manufacturing.
Second, that BPS was detected at some level is not at all surprising. Today, most of the thermal paper in the United States contains BPS. But what you are not being told, is that BPS is used as a safer alternative in lengthy list of items, potentially including your smart phone screens, baby bottles, and microwave safe dishes. There is a simple reason the advocates disingenuously refer to “potential” harm; that is, they have no actual “proof” of harm to human health. Isolating thermal receipt paper as a health concern when it is in products that we touch every day is irresponsible journalism, especially when the science is incomplete.
There is no reliable science regarding the impact of BPS on human health. BPS is considered a safer alternative to BPA. No new BPS regulations have taken effect in recent years concerning BPS use in thermal paper.
The Paper Receipts Converting Association (PRCA) is a nonprofit trade organization representing most manufacturers of paper receipts in the United States. The PRCA promotes the value of paper receipts, encourages the use of best practices, and collaborates with legislators and government agencies to promote the industry’s well-being. All members adhere to our GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) and comply with US FDA requirements around paper chemistry regulations, as well as California’s Proposition 65.
Despite the absence of such restrictions or reliable science, PRCA member companies are already offering phenol-free alternatives (containing neither BPA nor BPS) that are readily available for receipt usage.
PRCA member companies are committed to the safety of our employees, our partners, and the public at large. We will continue to comply with all legal restrictions regarding BPA, bring to market new alternatives, whether BPS, Phenol-Free or Developer-Free, and defend the use of receipt paper.
As you consider this decade-old campaign to mislead, consider this: a recent poll conducted in late 2022 indicated that consumers still dramatically prefer a paper receipt over a digital one, and that 85% of consumers want the option of paper or digital. The reason most cited for these numbers is the concerns over privacy with respect to giving out the personal information necessary to receive a digital receipt. Additionally, the paper receipt is an effective tool in curbing theft for stores which have recently been the victims of increased shoplifting or shrinkage trends. Put simply, the public — your customer — has heard the arguments and voted overwhelmingly for paper receipts because they are a safe, reliable form of proof of purchase.
The PRCA is a member of the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA). If you have been contacted by a media outlet regarding BPA/BPS and thermal paper, please direct them to AF&PA for information regarding this matter at email@example.com.