FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws

Paper receipts are a habitual end to retail transactions. But their usefulness is questionable — they can be tossed out within minutes of being printed, or go on to line the bottoms of our bags and wallets.

In an increasingly digital world, it may seem that paper receipts are in decline, but new data from Grand View Research shows the opposite to be true. Every year, paper receipt use is increasing worldwide — including in the U.S., where 256,300 metric tons of paper receipts were consumed in 2018.

These small pieces of paper can have a huge impact.

Millions of trees and billions of gallons of water are consumed to create them, generating tons of waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Most thermal paper receipts are also coated with Bisphenol A (BPA) or S (BPS), endocrine-disrupting substances that we absorb through contact, posing exposure risks for workers and customers.

But there may be changes coming soon.

In California, a proposed “skip the slip” bill would require businesses to offer a digital receipt option by 2022 throughout the state. The bill would switch the role of paper receipts from being automatically printed into being provided upon customer request, changing it from an opt-out process to an opt-in.

It wouldn’t ban paper receipts. It would simply prevent people from automatically getting paper receipts they may not want.

The bill is part of a larger movement to reduce waste. Receipts are one of many single-use disposable items that exist in all corners of our daily lives. Tackling disposable items, like receipts or straws, is leading to increasingly major shifts in public awareness of waste, which can lead to widespread demand for more systemic solutions.

Reducing paper receipts and other disposable items can be good for business.  Market analysis shows that the cost of thermal paper used for receipts is increasing more than double the volume increase each year. This is due to a critical shortage of leuco dye, essential for producing thermal paper.

In 2017, Chinese manufacturer Connect Chemicals, a major supplier of leuco dye, was shut down due to exceeding limits of hazardous fine particulate matter in its emissions. This cut leuco dye production by an estimated 80 percent, which led to drastically higher prices.

Despite this cost increase, demand for thermal paper is still projected to increase. That’s why moving away from paper-based receipts to digital options can save businesses money over the long term.

California has the opportunity to be the first state to “skip the slip” and reduce the impacts of receipts on the environment and human health.  The proposed bill in California is an opportunity to open the door for implementing more sustainable solutions and shifting society away from unnecessary waste.

It’s a model the rest of the country should study carefully.

Beth Porter is the climate and recycling director at Green America.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 21, 2019
Craig Collins
Endangered Species Act: A Failure Worth Fighting For?
Colin Todhunter
Offering Choice But Delivering Tyranny: the Corporate Capture of Agriculture
Michael Welton
That Couldn’t Be True: Restorying and Reconciliation
John Feffer
‘Slowbalization’: Is the Slowing Global Economy a Boon or Bane?
Johnny Hazard
In Protest Against Police Raping Spree, Women Burn Their Station in Mexico City.
Tom Engelhardt
2084: Orwell Revisited in the Age of Trump
Binoy Kampmark
Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
The Dead Letter Office of Capitalist Imperium: a Poverty of Mundus Imaginalis 
George Wuerthner
The Forest Service Puts Ranchers Ahead of Grizzlies (and the Public Interest)
Stephen Martin
Geopolitics of Arse and Elbow, with Apologies to Schopenhauer.
Gary Lindorff
The Smiling Turtle
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail