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Blue4est checkout receipt can be disposed of as wastepaper

Paper Solutions Green Solutions

Koehler Paper offers the sustainable and recyclable thermal paper Blue4est, also known as the blue receipt or eco receipt, which was launched onto the market in 2015. Now, a host of customers across Europe are using these sustainable checkout receipts. The innovative technology has since been refined, with the introduction of Blue4est Pro paper for labels in 2022.

Blue4est is produced entirely without chemical developers, which is why the German Environment Agency recommends disposing of it as wastepaper. This allows the paper to be recycled and reused as a new raw material.

Sebastian Früh, director thermal paper division at Koehler Paper, commented: ‘The circular economy can only become a reality if we reuse as many raw materials as we can. When disposed of as wastepaper, blue checkout receipts actively contribute to achieving that circular economy.’

The high quality fibres in Blue4est checkout rolls are ideal for further use in recycled packaging paper, for example.

Recently, there has been an increase in contradictory information being spread about the recyclability of Blue4est checkout receipts. Whereas the German Environment Agency states it is fully recyclable, according to Ingede (International Research Community for De-Inking Technology) blue checkout receipts can cause problems when disposed of as wastepaper, even in small quantities. This statement is causing confusion among consumers.

It is true that the black ink used in Blue4est cannot entirely be separated from the fibre pulp when it is redissolved. The resulting recycled material is light to dark grey in colour, which is of course undesirable for use in brilliant white recycled paper. However, this is also the case for other components of wastepaper like water soluble printing inks and dyed paper. That is why, when producing high quality graphic recycled or packaging paper from wastepaper, mixed household and commercial wastepaper is sorted and graded according to certain quality properties in accordance with the European standard EN 643.

One of the highest quality types of wastepaper is grade 1.11.00 paper, known as ‘paper for deinking’. Types of wastepaper that are unsuitable for the purpose of deinking, such as unbleached packaging paper or Blue4est checkout receipts, are excluded from this grade of paper as far as possible. This has been definitively confirmed by sorting tests with a much higher proportion of Blue4est than is usually present in practice.

The wastepaper that is excluded is not suitable for use in brilliant white recycled paper because of its varied composition and the fact that it includes types of paper that are difficult to deink or cannot be deinked at all. Despite that, this grade of wastepaper is still reused, becoming a new and necessary raw material.

Only around 11% of the wastepaper recycled in Germany in 2022 was paper for deinking; the lion’s share is used in packaging paper and card. The overall demand for wastepaper is so huge that it cannot be covered by the wastepaper collected in Germany alone. For example, some manufacturers of bathroom tissue are turning away from recycled paper and are starting to use virgin fibres again.

Stating that blue checkout receipts should be disposed of as general waste and not wastepaper undermines efforts to achieve a circular economy and sows confusion among consumers. Whether it is white, grey, brown, or blue – all wastepaper is a raw material.

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