Go Green this Arbor Day with Digital Receipts
When there is an exchange of currency, it is more often than not accompanied by the receiving of a receipt. While this behavior is second nature to us, it has far more negative consequences than many realize.
In honor of Arbor Day, we will unpack some of the surprising statistics around paper receipts and their greener alternative.
1.They’re Not Recyclable
One of the most shocking facts for many is that receipts are not recyclable. Due to the thermal coating on the receipt itself as well as the ink used to print on the receipt, the receipt cannot be recycled like traditional paper. Because of this, the crumpled transaction histories end up in the landfill for decomposition – which on average takes around 2-6 weeks per receipt. Multiply that by the millions of receipts added per day and you have quite the paper trail.
2. They Require A Large Amount of Natural Resources
According to Green America, here are the numbers behind these endless streams of paper:
- Each year in the U.S., up to 10 million trees are used to make the paper
- 21 billion gallons of water are used.
- The annual waste from receipts in the U.S. is 686 million pounds
- Skipping receipts would save 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), the equivalent of one million cars on the road
Evident from the above statistics, paper receipts cause a far larger footprint than many would expect.
3. They’re Bad For Your Health
The Ecology Center estimates that 93 percent of paper receipts are coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS), which is used as an ink agent to help the receipts be legible. According to Green America:
“When we touch receipts, the chemical coating is absorbed into our bodies through our hands in mere seconds. Researchers at the New York State Department of Health documented connections between BPA exposures and developmental and neurological problems. BPA impacts fetal development and is linked to reproductive impairment, type 2 diabetes, thyroid conditions, and other health concerns. Companies have sought out “non-BPA” paper, but the typical replacement is BPS, a similar chemical which research indicates has similarly detrimental effects as BPA.”
As a result of this, employees who regularly handle receipts have over 30 percent more BPA or BPS in their bodies than those that do not come in frequent contact with receipts. Nearly 81 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their systems, and 90 percent of our exposure to BPS comes from thermal paper receipts.
4. There is Proposed Legislation to Ban Them
Taking the above into consideration, Assemblymember Ting in has proposed legislation to ban paper receipts in California. This has gained the support of many, including Jimmy Kimmel, as people realize the harmful effects of something that often just lands in the garbage.
With the bill, customers will still be able to request a paper receipt in lieu of its digital counterpart, the more eco-friendly receipt, but printed receipts will not be the automatic fallback like they have been in the past. The goal of the bill is to protect workers and the environment while reducing the carbon footprint associated with printed receipts. Learn more about the bill here.
The Green Alternative
Causing harm to both the environment and humans alike, paper receipts are beginning to be phased out for its greener alternative, the eco-friendly receipt, digital receipt. Allowing brands to engage with customers after the sale, increasing loyalty and post-purchase engagement, many have found the benefits of going paperless far outweigh the benefits of this age-old proof of purchase.
Learn more about the benefits and easy implementation of digital receipts here.