It’s already happened with so much else… recycled materials, tote bags, reusable water bottles, cutlery and shops charging for plastic bags. So many unsustainable everyday items have been switched out for more eco-friendly alternatives! So why not paper receipts too?
Our daily routine encounters so many paper receipts, from buying petrol, coffee shops, lunches and daily shopping so where do all the receipts end up and what damage is this causing to the environment.
Did you know that 90% of receipts are thrown away? Did you also know that paper receipts can’t be recycled? That amounts to 12M trees cut down each year in Europe to end up as litter. How big is your carbon footprint? The unnecessary production of receipts released more than 18 million kgs of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere last year!
We often think we’re doing the right thing when reusing or recycling paper, but the chemicals in thermal register receipts actually render paper receipts non-recyclable; further, they introduce phenol into the rest of the stream, and the chemicals end up contaminating food and water sources.
So, what do we do? Just as the campaign against single-use plastics caused people to reconsider their consumption, it may be up to us, as consumers, to let companies know that it’s time to make a change. We don’t have to let a mountain of receipts become a forgotten environmental problem.
Putting an End to Dangerous BPA/BPS Exposure
Believe it or not, phenols like BPA (currently banned in infant/toddler products) are still used in the printing process of receipts.
As noted above, most thermal cash register receipts are printed with a heated combination of BPA and/or BPS, which are known hormone disruptors linked to a number of health issues. Some companies (Apple, Best Buy, Trader Joe’s, Costco, Whole Foods Market) offer phenol-free receipts, but are definitely in the minority. Over 90% of paper receipts are coated with BPA or BPS – known disruptors of the endocrine system. The health implications of this are astounding, with retail employees and workers frequently exposed to paper receipts often carrying higher than 30% more BPA and BPS in their systems than individuals without that level of exposure. [Source – Minnesota Pollution Control Agency]
The environmental considerations are highly compelling. The 2019 Green America study concluded that use of paper receipts “has the same greenhouse gas emissions impact as driving over 450,000 cars each year.”
Digital receipts are the perfect example of how we can embrace technology to help eliminate wasteful practices that we no longer actually need. We are doing most things on our phones now so why not digital receipts too?
Digital receipts save tons of paper waste from ending up in landfills and also help you avoid the risk of missing out on returns because of a misplaced or faded paper slip. By using digital receipts, the receipt is safely stored on your device for you to retrieve.
Most importantly, eliminating paper receipts and replacing them with digital receipts reduces the number of trees cut down to make these receipts (300billion paper receipts are created annually, 11 billion of those in the UK alone.) Additionally, saving retailers money by reducing procurement of receipt rolls and printing machines.
With so many great options for creating dynamic digital receipts, and the ability to use card readers with paperless transaction capabilities, making the switch to phenol-free paper for the instances in which a customer needs a receipt are totally feasible.
With all of this in mind, the question then becomes: What will it take to get mass retailers to get on board with eliminating harmful chemicals from their stores, and by proxy, our homes? Again, the answer is most likely the power of the wallet – if consumers opt not to spend money at businesses that don’t adapt, change will be driven much more quickly.
In the early 2000s, before the explosive growth of retail mobile apps and before the benefits of email address capture became known, the Apple Store and a few startups pushed digital receipts as part of the growing sustainability movement
Keep your hands clean and safe! With the global Covid pandemic, avoiding coming into contact with paper receipts passing from one hand to another, plus the chemicals often found on receipts or on foreign surfaces is key in the current situation.
While there’s clearly a trend toward paperless transactions — particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic creating boom times for no-contact payments — there isn’t any law that lays down clear rules for such practices.
Sustainability is not just a buzzword. Paper receipts are printed whether or not customers want them. Digital receipts are a sustainable alternative to paper receipts that does more good than harm. The current thinking appears to be that if a store wants to go digital-only with customer receipts, it can. Paper-preferring consumers can decide for themselves if they want to shop there. Invest in green options to engage better with customers.
The environmental benefits of eliminating paper receipts are widely known. But now, those “green” receipts have gone mainstream. The biggest reason? Digital receipts bring significant business benefits, no matter the retailer’s size or type. More than that, digital receipts are transforming retail marketing.
Eliminating paper receipts has to be the future so it’s time to go digital. Digital receipts