A California lawmaker wants to make paper receipts a thing of the past.
According to Chain Store Age, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced legislation that would make California the first state to require retailers to offer digital receipts to customers, either by email or text, starting Jan. 1, 2022. Customers would still be able to request a paper receipt. For businesses that do not comply, there would be two warnings issued before being fined up to $300 per year.
“Most of us don’t need a physical receipt for every transaction,” Ting said. “It doesn’t make sense to kill so many trees and produce 12 billion pounds of carbon emissions — the equivalent of 1 million cars on the road — to make something we don’t often need.”
Ting added that a study from environmental group Green America revealed that up to 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water in the U.S. are used to create paper receipts every year, and that they generate 686 million pounds of waste and 12 billion pounds of CO2 each year. Research from Ecology Center also estimated that 93 percent of paper receipts are covered with Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS), which are linked to serious health problems.
“Over time, this legislation would prevent millions of trees from being logged for paper receipts, which fewer and fewer consumers want, and which often go straight to landfills,” said Green America Climate and Recycling Director Beth Porter. “This bill will make California a leader in addressing the impacts of paper-based receipts.”
Many companies already see paper receipts as a nuisance that can be easily misplaced. In 2016, Expensify, an expense management firm, launched a new service called ReceiptBurner, which integrates into travel service providers such as Uber, HotelTonight and Revel Systems, enabling travelers to send purchase data directly to the Expensify platform.
“Our dream is for receipts to become the next floppy disk,” said Expensify CEO and Founder David Barrett at the time.