A legislator in the California Assembly has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require retailers to make digital receipts the default instead of paper. California Assemblymember Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) has introduced AB 161, nicknamed “Skip the Slip.” If it becomes law, it would be the first of its kind in the United States.
According to Green America, each year up to 10 million trees in the U.S. are used to make the paper for receipts, and the process takes 21 billion gallons of water. The receipts also produce a ton of waste — nearly 686 million pounds.
If the state of California decides to skip the paper receipts, it will save 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of one million cars on the road.
In recent years, paper receipts have gotten longer and longer, thanks to the addition of coupons and member rewards programs. The length is not the only problem. According to the Ecology Center, approximately 93 percent of paper receipts are coated with BPA or BPS to help make them legible.
Green America said, “When we touch receipts, the chemical coating is absorbed into our bodies through our hands in mere seconds.” There are documented connections between BPA and developmental and neurological problems. Researchers at the New York State Department of Health said that BPA also impacts fetal development, and it is linked to reproductive problems, type 2 diabetes and thyroid conditions.
Beth Porter, Green America’s climate and recycling director, said that this new legislation would prevent millions of trees from being logged for paper receipts, and it will make California a leader on the issue.
Some innovative companies are already doing their part to lessen the environmental impact and reduce the health risks that come with paper receipts. Businesses like Best Buy, Starbucks and Whole Foods Market are already offering digital receipts, and card readers for smartphones are also offering paperless transactions.
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