Bill seeks to mandate digital receipts in California

A lawmaker in California thinks paper receipts are mostly useless.

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced a bill that would make California the first state in the nation to mandate that all retailers offer digital receipts to customers starting January 1, 2022. The receipts would be issued by email or by text.

Under the proposed legislation, customers would be able to request a paper receipt in lieu of an electronic one. If the bill is approved, businesses that do not comply would receive two warnings before being fined up to $300 per year.

“Most of us don’t need a physical receipt for every transaction,” Ting stated. “It doesn’t make sense to kill so many trees and produce 12 billion pounds of carbon emissions, the equivalent of one million cars on the road, to make something we don’t often need.”

The lawmaker referenced a study from environmental group Green America, which claimed that up to 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water in the U.S. are used to create paper receipts every year, and that the receipts generate 686 million pounds of waste and 12 billion pounds of CO2 annually.

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

Green America also cited research from Ecology Center, which estimates 93% of paper receipts are coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS), toxins that are absorbed when people touch receipts and are linked to serious health problems.