Minnesota businesses urged to reduce BPA exposure in receipts

Published On: Mar 11 2013 11:36:59 AM CDT   Updated On: Mar 01 2013 07:07:41 PM CST
WINONA, Minn. -

More and more Minnesota businesses are urged to do away with the traditional paper receipts.

The amount of BPA found in thermal receipt paper is higher than in other things known to carry BPA such as canlinings.

However, the research is still out on just how much of that BPA can harm the human body, but at least one business said making the switch completely to paperless receipts comes with its own challenges.

As customers head through the check-out lines at the Bluff Country Co-Op in Winona, they'll need to answer one question before their transaction can be complete.

“Are you interested in a receipt today,” said a cashier.

“We always ask the customer would you like to have a receipt,” said Stephen Schauer, the co-op’s general manager.

Customers at the co-op have the option of choosing between the traditional paper receipts or an electronic one.

It's an effort Schauer said helps reduce the business' carbon footprint, and it's also helped with health concerns in recent years.

“We operated a lot of old receipt printers, so the thermal paper wasn't an issue until recently,” said Schauer.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the thermal paper widely used for paper receipts contains BPA.

The agency is now urging businesses to switch to paperless receipts.

“We're saying this is a win-win,” said Madalyn Cioci, source reduction specialist at the MPCA. “People will still get receipts and records of their sales, businesses no longer have to deal with buying the paper and everyone gets less exposure to the receipts, especially those retail workers.”

Studies have linked BPA to obesity, attention deficit disorder and reproductive issues.

Schauer said the co-op uses BPA free paper, but even so, it can still contain harmful chemicals.

“It’s the lesser of two evils,” said Schauer. “It’s impossible to find paper that’s not chemically produced.”

While he said the push to go paperless is a good one, it's a lot harder than it sounds.

“It’s technology and that technology is very expensive,” said Schauer. “I know, to upgrade every single register component along with some of our infrastructure would just be not in the budget, but it’s a good initiative and we support paperless, whenever possible.”

Schauer said the switch to BPA-free paper was a little bit more expensive, but at the same time the majority of customers at the co-op choose not to take a paper receipt.

The MPCA is also offering grant assistance for businesses willing to make the switch.

For more information, head to the MPCA website.