California retailers could no longer offer print receipts

California retailers could no longer offer print receipts

Existing state laws prohibit stores, restaurants from providing single-use plastic bags and straws.

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January 10, 2019

A California Assemblymember introduced a new bill this week that would make the state the first in the U.S. to bar retailers from offering printed receipts unless a customer requests them.

If the proposed legislation, titled Skip the Slip, passes, it would make e-receipts the default for retailers as of Jan. 1, 2022. The bill would fine violators up to $300 per year for providing print receipts.

“There’s a negative impact on the environment with these receipts and the inability to recycle them,” states Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who introduced the legislation.

According to Green America’s Skip the Bill report, receipts generate 686 million pounds of waste every year in the United States. The report also reveals paper receipts use 10 million trees, consume 21 billion gallons of water, generate 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) and are coated with harmful chemicals known to cause serious health problems, including cancer and diabetes.

“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,” Green America’s climate and recycling director Beth Porter says. “This bill will make California a leader in addressing the impacts of paper-based receipts.”

Many U.S. companies embrace e-receipts or are changing their practices due to the environmental impacts of paper-based receipts. Best Buy offers digital receipts and chemical-free receipts. Apple, CVS, Macy’s and Starbucks also offer e-receipts.

“Retailers who have adopted digital receipts are already seeing benefits in terms of reduced costs and greater connection to their customers,” states Green America’s executive co-director Todd Larsen.  “Assemblymember Ting’s bill will benefit retailers, workers, and consumers in California, and it will be an important step forward in addressing the increasing impacts of paper-based receipts.”

California has been an environmental leader with existing laws that prohibit certain stores from providing single-use plastic bags to customers and prohibit restaurants from offering single-use plastic straws to consumers unless requested by the consumer. The city of San Diego this week voted to ban the use of polystyrene foam-- egg cartons, food containers and coolers.

In New York City, stores and food service establishments may no longer offer foam food containers because the city found the material could no be effectively recycled. Stores in Boston will also no longer offer plastic bags at checkout.

Changing mandates have forced businesses, retailers, restaurants to find sustainable alternatives, while providing an opportunity for innovative companies to create solutions.

When California’s Straw Law took effect Jan. 1, California-based World Centric created a straw that would help reduce plastic pollution, while meeting the needs of area restaurants.

The company recently announced a 100 percent compostable, marine-degradable straw. The plant-based straws meet the new Straw Law and will turn to soil in commercial composting facilities, the company says.