In an effort to reduce waste and public health risks from paper receipts, the California State Assembly voted today to approve AB 161, a bill by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) that modernizes proofs of purchase. Starting in 2022, Skip the Slip legislation requires businesses to provide paper receipts only upon request. Two years later, they must allow customers to choose between no receipt, an e-receipt or a paper one. Paper receipts will always continue to be an option.
“Most of us don’t need a physical receipt for every transaction. It doesn’t make sense to kill so many trees and unnecessarily expose people to toxins for something we don’t often need,” said Ting.
According to Green America, up to 3 million trees and 9 billion gallons of water in the United States are used every year to create receipts. In recent years, paper receipts have not only included proof of the items purchased, but also coupons, promotions and surveys, making them unnecessarily long and ridiculed on the internet.
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel even joked about it on his late night show a few weeks ago, saying paper receipts should not be tall enough to ride Space Mountain at Disneyland.
The public health impacts are especially alarming. The Ecology Center found 93% of receipts contain Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Bisphenol-S (BPS), which enable text to appear on the receipt. BPA and BPS are known endocrine disruptors and can cause developmental and neurological problems. These additives also mean paper receipts cannot be recycled.
“This policy will reduce the waste of unwanted paper and allow for customers to choose the receipt option that works best for them. It benefits the environment and reduces toxins exposure for workers and customers. Green America supports these goals and California’s leadership on this issue.” Beth Porter, Program Director, Green America.
During the legislative process, a few exemptions were added to AB 161:
- Retailers and services grossing less than $2 million per year
- Businesses using BPA/BPS-free paper & printing only purchase information
- Cash-only businesses
- Health care providers
AB 161 allows for two warnings before a $25 per day, $300 per year fine can be imposed on businesses that don’t comply. Ting’s proposal now heads to the Senate for consideration. All bills must reach the Governor’s desk by September 13.