(Gray News) – A California lawmaker has introduced legislation that would phase out paper receipts, making electronic receipts the default in the state beginning in 2022.
Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco argued paper receipts are both wasteful and unnecessarily risky.
Citing a report by the Ecology Center, an advocacy group in Michigan, Ting, a Democrat. said paper receipts often contain a chemical called Bisphenol A, or BPA.
According to the National Institutes of Health, BPA is an endocrine disruptor that interferes with the body’s natural hormones and can be harmful especially to infants and unborn children during preganancy.
The Ecology Center study found 93 percent of paper receipts contain BPA, or a similar chemical known as BPS, mostly as a coating to keep ink from running.
“Most people don’t know that these receipts contain BPA. In fact I was shocked to hear that,” Ting said. “It’s really commonly, wide-held knowledge that BPA is toxic, and something really that we shouldn’t be touching. So to think that every time I’m getting a receipt I have to touch BPA … seems to be not only irresponsible but also very dangerous.”
He said many retailers already prioritize electronic receipts.
“You can say, just email me a receipt. It’s very, very common, especially with most of the new credit card type machines,” he said.
Paper receipts, according to the lawmaker, are also wasteful.
Citing a report by the environmental organization Green America, Ting said receipts can generate almost 700 million pounds of waste and 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide annually. They also require 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water every year.
“Most people assume that these receipts can be recyclable,” Ting said. “Guess what, they can’t be recyclable, because of the BPA.”
Ting’s bill, AB 161, would require proof of purchase receipts, starting Jan. 1, 2022, “be provided only in electronic form, unless the consumer requests that the proof of purchase be provided in paper form.”
The bill would institute fines of $25 a day (maxing out at $300) for businesses violating the law.
It’s unclear what kind of support the bill might have from California’s overwhelmingly Democratic state legislature.