Friday, October 07, 2011

Don't Need a Receipt for the Doughnut

I have applied some brain power over the last little while to figuring out some product that I could sell to make a living as an entrepreneur. Inspired by the story of Terracycle's CEO (affectionately called "Worm Boy"), I tried thinking of a surplus material  that was being wasted available for me to use in some other fashion, much like Terracycle used old coffee grinds to feed the worms that produce their fertilizer. The answer came to me while I was at work one day, changing a receipt roll from an ABM: The roll.

The rolls must be changed out when they come too close to the end, however, this typically leaves a generous amount of paper still back on the roll that can't be used by the machine. These rolls are conventionally thrown out, since we lack any other disposal option.  Imagine how many times we do this a night, and you can imagine the kind of resource I was thinking of - I just needed to find a way to capitalize on this; perhaps break it down to make into more conventionally sized paper. Needless to say, I hit google for the answer, but what I found was a huge surprise.

Most ABM receipts, in fact most point of sale receipts, contain bisphenol A or BPA for short. The stuff they made a huge push to eliminate from water bottles is present in doses from 10 to 30 mg every time you purchase a scooby-doo slip 'n slide. That dose doesn't mean much, by itself, but further research is being done with the lowest observed effect level at 50 mg/kg/day. From a retail perspective, that means a salesperson who handles around 100 to 300 receipts a day is ingesting a statistically significant amount of BPA. Someone like myself, who is exposed to old receipt paper that has begun to degrade, thus speeding up the expulsion of the BPA, can be exposed to even more, especially under the conditions of excessive sweating (and sweating is what we do best). Add in the fact that "Mechanical handling of bisphenol A can cause formation of dust", i.e exactly what occurs in the ABM that we are breathing around, and we have the potential for a lot of exposure. BPA dust has been shown to cause upper respiratory irritation. (I am far too mature to point out that aerosol exposure to BPA caused rats to experience "decreased body weight, perineal soiling from urine and porphyrin-like material around the nose and eyes".)

Some of the effects of BPA exposure, as documented in lab rats in quantities around 50 mg/kg/day, include: lower body weight; liver, kidney, and bladder effects; and increased uterine glycogen levels at as little as 5 mg/kg/day. On the positive side it is most emphatically NOT a carcinogen, which means it might be the only thing that won't give you cancer. It is also readily excreted from the body however, it is excreted in the form of straight BPA, which raises the problem of build-up in the water supply, much the same issue as estrogen from birth control excretions.

Although there has been much discussion about BPA in the mainstream media, there has been almost no discussion about BPA's presence in receipt paper, and the hazards presented to those who deal with it, despite the fact that Japan voluntarily replaced all their paper receipts with non-BPA paper (true, they replaced it with BPS, a cousin of BPA, but we'll deal with that later.)
Finally, If this sounds dire, please bear in mind this information came from the people selling BPA, and draw whatever conclusions you like.

References:
http://www.pprc.org/research/rapidresDocs/PPRC_Thermal_Paper_Recycle_or_Trash.pdf
http://www.bisphenol-a.org/index.html
http://www.bisphenol-a.org/pdf/BPAsafe.pdf

The title is from Mitch Hedburg: “I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughtnut... I don't need a receipt for the doughnut. I give you money and you give me the doughnut, end of transaction. We don't need to bring ink and paper into this. I can't imagine a scenario that I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. To some skeptical friend, 'Don't even act like I didn't get that doughnut, I've got the documentation right here... It's in my file at home. ...Under "D".'”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in learning what the heck this stuff does in the receipt paper?
lol, mapa

Opal Sea said...

Thanks for explaining the title!

Perhaps this explains why the cashiers at T & T wear gloves?