Why Paper Receipts are More Damaging Than You Think
Posted on: September 22nd, 2020
There’s a new bill being proposed in the state of California regarding paper receipts.
Why should this be something states begin to worry about?
For starters, paper receipts are a huge waste, which when tallied together can have a huge, negative impact on the environment. Think about it, where do most of your paper receipts wind up? In the garbage.
What you may not know is that paper receipts are not recyclable and are toxic.
According to TreeHugger.com, “Thermal paper is now ubiquitous and found in most retail locations, but it cannot be recycled because of the chemicals that are used to create it. A 2018 report by the Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program found BPA and BPS in 93% of tested receipts.”
For those unfamiliar with the acronyms, BPA and BPS are known hormone disruptors which can affect brain development, heart, lung and prostate health, mammary glands and reproductive abilities.
California’s proposed “Skip the Slip” legislation would essentially require retailers and restaurants to offer digital receipts as the default to customers.
Still not convinced that paper receipts are harmful to the environment? Here are some statistics on these seemingly harmless pieces of paper.
- In the U.S. alone, up to 10 million trees are used to make paper receipts each year, including 21 billion gallons of water.
- 686 million pounds of waste are created annually in the U.S. from paper receipts.
- Eliminating receipts would save 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide(CO2), the equivalent of one million cars on the road.
With some receipts being as long as the roll they’re printed on, the impacts are acute.
While uncirculated newsprint can be used to create the fiber slurries needed for such products as growing containers and protective packaging, the 686 million pounds of waste created annually by receipts cannot, and should not, based on health concerns.
Yes, there’s a still a great deal of paper waste globally. But the EPA reports that paper has a recycling rate of over 66% – which is incredibly high – and can be recycled again some five to seven times depending on the application.
With paper receipts unable to be recycled, toxic and clogging up landfills unnecessarily, California’s proposed legislation is starting to sound like a good idea.
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