What’s up with BPA thermal till rolls?

Legislation, alternatives, costs and more…

receipt in hand
BPA thermal till roll
paying at the till

Letitia Kerkham
Account Manager

Passionate about helping retailers in creative cost reduction & becoming more sustainable, you’ll usually find Letitia chatting to our customers. When she disappears from the office, she’s most likely baking, entertaining or exploring the countryside!

You may have seen that there’s been a lot of hype on the internet about BPA thermal till rolls.

This is all to do with some red tape from the EU which affects all of us.  New legislation?  Yep, we know.  Ever so perplexing and even more tedious!

That’s why in this article we’ll explain what BPA is and what you can and can’t use in your till printer from January 2020.

Right.  Let’s quickly start to debunk the myths!

What is BPA and is it dangerous?

BPA (Bisphenol-A) is a supposedly harmful chemical that is used in so many things in our day to day life.  Think tin cans, CDs & DVDs and plastic toys.  The Mayo Clinic say that extended BPA exposure to children has concerning health effects on the brain.  Other research has shown it is an endocrine disruptor (along with other nice things like flame retardants and pesticides) and that it could increase blood pressure in us all.

Saying that, the NHS says “no single study conclusively proves that BPA is harmful to humans”.  The quantity found in till rolls is generally small and unlikely to do much damage, but it is absorbed through the skin, and for sake of your staff on the tills alone, the time is definitely right to look at alternatives.

Why is BPA in my standard thermal till roll?

It’s all to do with the stability of the paper.

Because thermal tills use heat to print, BPA was used to make sure the paper didn’t ignite when it came into contact with the heat source.  It also enabled bolder ink and faster printing, an attribute that was always going to be beneficial when it came to the age old battle of avoiding queues at till points!

What are EU BPA regulations?

Because we always want to be on the safe side with chemicals, In January 2017, Bisphenol-A was added to the EU candidate list of Substances of Very High Concern, which in brief is one of the first moves to restricting EU imports.

However, even before this the EU was concerned about BPA, and in 2016 they issued a directive saying that BPA would be banned in all EU countries by 2nd January 2020.  And as all standard till rolls had BPA, and we’re coming into the last month of 2019 we thought we’d let you know a few alternatives.

So what is the alternative to BPA thermal till rolls?

The most common and cost-effective alternative to BPA is BPS (Bisphenol-S).  Let’s fire off a few pros and cons of BPS.

Pros

  • BPS has the same or increased stability to heat and light as BPA
  • Good print quality
  • Lower concentrations of the chemical in thermal paper
  • Same price as BPA till rolls
  • Cheaper than other alternatives
  • Less hazardous to health than BPA
  • Can be bespoke printed

Cons

  • In the same family as BPA
  • Recycling BPS paper could mean contamination of BPS into recycled paper production

If BPS isn’t good enough for you, the other option for thermal printers is Phenol-Free Till Rolls.  These are a urea-based product which are super good for the environment.

Pros

  • They’re made from a totally different family of chemicals
  • Brilliant print quality
  • Can be bespoke printed

Cons

  • A lot more expensive than BPA and BPS till rolls

Where can I get BPA free till rolls from?

If you Google BPA Free Till Rolls, which you probably did to reach this page, you’ll find a whole host of suppliers out there.  From Amazon to Acopia, we’re all toeing the line in view of the ban in January 2020.

Hopefully this quick write-up cleared up the muddied waters around BPA.  If you need any more help from us in finding the right alternative, just fill out the form below.

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