Choosing to Be Eco-Friendly Is up to Us – Digital Receipts Are a Great First Step
How invested are we in eco-friendly technology?
It’s a well-known fact that most printed invoices end up in the trash approximately 3 seconds after they're received. Most of us hardly give this a second thought, but the environmental costs andongoing impact is tremendous.
The online magazine Treehugger (2.6M readers), mentions some statistics on the surprising waste regarding receipts: “The annual waste from receipts in the U.S. is 686 million pounds,” while skipping receipts would “save 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), the equivalent of one million cars on the road.”
We all know about using public transportation more often, recycling and re-using, but, letting go of printed receipts could be so much easier, and just as impactful.
We don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but printed paper receipts also carry health risks.
Each printed receipt exposes us to toxic chemicals states Green America. “Thermal paper used for receipts is coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S(BPS), which are endocrine-disruptors that serve as color-developers to make the text appear on receipts. These toxic chemicals are linked to reproductive impairment, type 2 diabetes, thyroid conditions, and other health concerns.” We also know they can pose a danger to children and have been linked to reproductive harm.
Well, you might say that we don’t hold so many receipts each day/week/year for the exposure to significantly add up. True, but many employees do. The estimated number of cashiers (retail clerks) is approximately 4M in the USA alone. They touch thousands of receipts each day.
The legislative progress on paper receipts
Unfortunately, there isn’t a law (yet) that lays down clear rules for offering consumers paper or digital receipts any wherein the world..
California lawmakers came close, but rejected a bill in 2019,AB 16,1 that would have required stores to ask customers if they want a paper receipt before printing one out.
Senate Bill S771, sponsored by Todd Kaminsky in New York State, is ‘In Senate Committee’, is looking to ban paper receipts for certain purchases and requires businesses to provide proof of purchase electronically, unless a proof of purchase is otherwise required by state or federal law.
The European Union is also making progress, by introducing the mandatory electronic invoice (e-invoice) from 1st October 2020.Italy was first to implement, later Poland and others to follow.
These of course do not amount to digital receipts, but it is progress.
Are corporations and large retail chains aware of the environmental impact?
According to the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), in line with ‘Goal 12’ – sustainable consumption and production – “There is a growing recognition of the fact that modern consumption patterns - brought in by retailing activities since the 90's- have a significant impact on the environment.” In fact, they state that there is a shift to more sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns.
But international retailers are ‘writing their own rules’ when it comes to sustainability.
As we review the leading retailers in the USA and UK – Walmart, Amazon.com, The Kroger Co., The Home Depot, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and more – it’s clear they have all made various environmental commitments.
Walmart, for example, intends to allocate “an amount equal to the net proceeds of the $2 billion ”toward a portfolio of Eligible Green Investments.
Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge — a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the business by 2040.
The Home Depot mostly concentrates on the products they sell, and have made a commitment to offer products that are better for the planet.
Tesco is removing plastic wrapping from its multipack tins in an effort to cut down on waste.
Sainsbury’s pledged £1bn to cut emissions to zero by 2040.
Asda have a variety of achievements, including reduced paper usage, carbon footprint, and higher food redistribution!
So, no specific digital invoice commitment yet, but we’ll get there, too.
At Weezmo, we witness firsthand that retailers are welcoming the environmentally friendly option, enabling consumers to choose it too.
Connect, Engage, Reach – towards a greener future.