If you walk into a neighborhood coffee shop in San Francisco and buy a drink, you’ll probably pay on a Square reader and get your receipt by email. If you walk into the Walgreens next door, you might get a foot-long paper receipt. A new bill in California aims to shift all stores to a default digital version, and raises the question of why we’re still cutting down trees and lacing paper with BPA when the technology exists for an alternative.
“We started looking into this idea of receipts and whether we should move people towards electronic receipts,” says Phil Ting, a California assemblymember from San Francisco. His staff calculated the amount of paper and water wasted to create receipts that often end up in the trash seconds later, and then learned about the health issues that receipts also pose. “As we did more research, we found out the receipts aren’t just printed with regular inkjet ink, which is recyclable. It’s [coated] with BPA which is not recyclable, and actually toxic.”