The Belgian public authorities (Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy and FPS Health, food chain safety and environment), together with the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) organized on 26 March 2019 an European event dedicated to the substitution of Bisphenol A (BPA) in thermal papers.

In December 2016, the European Commission decided to restrict the use of BPA in thermal paper in the European Union. The ban will take effect in 2020. As a result of this restriction, manufacturers of thermal paper will need to replace BPA. However, several alternatives are under regulatory scrutiny for potential human health and/or environmental concern (e.g. Bisphenol S, D-8, Pergafast®201).

The workshop aimed at gathering stakeholders across the thermal paper supply chain to:

  • Present and discuss available alternatives to BPA in thermal paper, their health and environmental toxicity profiles, their regulatory status, technical performance and the need for manufacturing adaptations in the end product;
  • Discuss emerging alternatives and associated testing needs;
  • Exchange on challenges as well as needs and opportunities for multi-sectoral collaboration to scale up the adoption of sustainable alternatives;
  • Identify concrete collaborative next steps to advance the development and adoption of sustainable alternatives.

Participants of the workshop :

55 participants were present: producers of chemicals alternatives to BPA in thermal paper, but also thermal paper manufacturers, converters, users of thermal papers (e.g. retailers), research institutions in the field, regulatory bodies, representatives of NGO, trade union, industry associations and other stakeholders interested in the topic.

Presentations of the day :

Introduction by the Belgian REACH competent authority

Presentations by several alternatives providers:

Slides from a converter of thermal paper:

Presentation of a big retailer’s successful experience in phasing out BPA from thermal paper (Coop Denmark)

Presentation by a trade union (ETUC)

Presentations by Authorities :

Concluding highlights from the European Chemical Agency (ECHA)

Break-out group discussions:

In the afternoon, participants were divided into small groups to discuss 6 questions. The outcome of the discussions has been summarized here below:

  1. What additional knowledge or information does each type of stakeholder need to advance the adoption of safer and more sustainable thermal papers?
  2. Who are the key stakeholders within the supply chain able to drive the shift of the market to safer and more sustainable thermal papers?
  3. What are the drivers for substitution to more sustainable thermal papers?
  4. What are the next steps to be undertaken by each type of stakeholder to move to safer and more sustainable thermal papers? Is there a need for collaboration?
  5. How about the use of new technologies (e.g. electronic receipts) in replacing thermal papers? What are the areas of potential applications, the opportunities and challenges linked to those?
  6. What are the barriers for adoption of safer alternatives?

Disclaimer: The summary of the discussions does not necessarily represent the opinions of each participant or of the organizers.

Concluding remarks from the organizers :

The dialogue between the different actors of the supply chain of thermal papers and with representatives of different authorities has started. This dialogue allowed to highlight important issues, not always obvious for all actors. The Belgian REACH competent authority (Federal Public Service Health, food chain safety and environment) and the Federal Public Service Economy have committed themselves to work on sustainable substitution. The dialogue between the different actors is a crucial element, but actions are also important. The Belgian authorities will work on the subject in the coming years (evaluation of some alternatives to Bisphenol A, communication…), together with ECHA and other authorities. 

The report of the workshop can be downloaded here