Embedded Red Fibers Make BPA-free Receipts Easy to Spot

Appleton, the only producer of BPA-free thermal receipt paper in the United States, has added easy-to-see red fibers to its paper, creating peace of mind for retailers and consumers in time for the holiday shopping season.

Until now, consumers have had no means to distinguish whether the cash register, credit card or ATM receipts they receive contain bisphenol A (BPA), a substance that has been linked to potential health risks. Appleton designed its "red fiber" BPA-free paper to help consumers and retail workers quickly identify the kind of thermal receipt paper they are handling. The red fibers will be in about 75 percent of the thermal receipt paper that Appleton ships by the end of November. Appleton expects to have the red fibers in all of its thermal receipt paper before the end of first quarter 2011.

"We took technology that is used for authenticating documents like bank checks, and we applied it to thermal receipt paper," Willetts explained. Appleton embedded into its thermal receipt paper small red fibers made of rayon, a recyclable cellulose fiber that is more biodegradable than cotton. The thermal receipt paper itself is also recyclable. The performance of Appleton's thermal products is unconditionally guaranteed by the company.

Appleton, the nation's largest manufacturer of thermal paper, dropped BPA from its thermal paper formulation in 2006 out of growing concerns about the safety of the chemical.

"Four years ago, after reviewing toxicology reports and available studies, Appleton acted quickly to remove BPA from its thermal products," said Kent Willetts, Appleton's vice president of strategic development. "We are committed to actively managing the safety of all our products and removing BPA was the responsible thing to do."

Since that time, concerns over BPA have grown. In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concern about the potential adverse health effects of BPA in infants and children, especially for applications with direct contact to food. BPA bans are in place in Japan, Canada, and a growing number of U.S. states, and Congress is considering a federal ban on BPA in all food and beverage containers.

In July 2010, the Environmental Working Group issued a report that found BPA in 40 percent of receipts collected from supermarkets, automated teller machines, gas stations and national retailers.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invited Appleton representatives to participate in a partnership program called Design for the Environment, which involves multi-stakeholder alternative assessments to help reduce environmental releases of, and subsequent exposure to, BPA. The first assessment focuses on finding safer alternatives to BPA for use as a developer for dyes in thermal paper.

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