The environmental impact of the paper receipt and why you should go digital?

digital receipts

How many times a day are you handed a receipt after making a purchase, only to throw it away or tell the clerk to keep it? That morning coffee, candy bar and pack of gum are all items that don't require a proof of purchase, yet they still come with a receipt. 9.6 million trees are cut down each year to produce receipts that most people will throw away. What most consumers and business don't realize is that these small slips of paper are causing deforestation and costing the planet millions of trees. It takes about 390 gallons of oil to produce one ton of paper. This is the equivalent of 249.6 million gallons of oil being used to keep up with the U.S.’s demands for paper receipts.

Even before Apple made the push to make the electronic receipt standard practice in 2005, there were a handful of Silicon Valley-type startups that rode the sustainability wave to encourage both consumers and companies to forego paper and make the switch to digital. Although their intentions were rooted in altruism, they were a tad too ahead of their time—mobile devices weren't as ubiquitous as they are today, and few retailers were willing to invest in consumer-facing mobile applications. As many retailers fell victim to the failing economy, “going green” became less important. But times have changed. Aside from the obvious lessening of your carbon footprint, there are additional green benefits to digitizing the receipt.

Experience waste and cost reductions

Back in 2005, when those green receipt startups made their initial attempts at promoting the electronic way of recording transactions, allEtronic pegged U.S. retailers’ yearly thermal receipt paper consumption at 500,000 tons, and that volume was expected to grow at 3% per year. Although fluctuations in paper costs do happen, these findings point to roughly $4 billion in thermal paper expenses across the retail industry. When you also take into consideration the initial and maintenance expenses of the printers themselves and the energy required to run them, management will begin to see an operating expense line that any financial professional would be pleased to reduce. Cost reduction is a leading factor in the adoption of the technology. According to recent research from Epsilon, 35% of retailers are currently opting to take the route of the electronic receipt.

Increasing your corporate sustainability reputation

Branding matters, and improving sustainability performance leads to a stronger brand. Customers take into consideration a brand’s corporate sustainability reputation and activities when making purchase decisions. While consumers might not be willing to pay higher prices for greener products, they will more likely purchase goods from brands that are more socially responsible.

There are many other benefits of taking the receipt digital. For more insights on the impact of the electronic receipton the environment and your business, contact us today.