New York City Council members announced they would consider laws restricing receipts coated with BPA. BPA is a chemical layer on paper receipts that allows heated thermal printers to print all your purchase items and their cost according to a NYC City Council press release.
November 29, 2019 the City Council announced they would hold hearings on bills designed to give customers more choice over receiving receipts and phase out the use of BPA-coated receipt paper. The Council offered four bills providing consumers with the option of declining a paper receipt in exchange for an e-receipt; providing customers with the option not to print receipts; requiring the recycling of receipts; and alternatives to BPA/BPS receipt paper.
“Nobody needs foot-long receipts. We will work with businesses and consumers to cut out paper receipt waste and protect the planet. Let’s not print receipts when they aren’t wanted, especially when we have technology to issue environmentally-friendly alternatives,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Annually in the United States, the use of receipts consumes over 3 million trees, according to Green America. The majority of paper receipts are coated with BPA or BPS.
“We need to change the ways we dispose of our waste if we wish to become the most environmentally friendly City in the country. My two bills will ensure that we use recyclable material to print recipes and that we dispose of them appropriately to reduce our waste,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
“Paper receipts in this country consume an estimated 10 million trees each year. At a time when we need to reduce waste and our carbon footprint, receipts seem to be getting longer and longer, and most go straight to the shredder or trash can. We have the technology for electronic receipts. We should utilize it as a default across our city, with paper as a secondary option for those who expressly prefer it,” said Council Member Deborah Rose.
Int. 290 – Requiring stores and banks to recycle receipts.
Int. 291 – Restricting the use of BPA- or BPS-coated paper and requiring that all receipts and tickets be printed on recyclable material.
Int. 629 – Requiring retail stores to ask consumers before providing paper receipts and requiring that new point-of-sale devices have paperless settings.
Int. 1614 – Requiring retail stores to maintain a point-of-sale device that can issue e-receipts.
The proposed NYC laws are similar to the California ban on paper receipts that failed after the added expenses to business and inconvenience to consumers were revealed.
The New York City Council has not considered the cost of installing a computer system that can generate digital or email receipts. The proposed receipt ban in California failed after the California Restaurant Association said the new law could cost restaurants roughly $35,000 to purchase a point-of-sale system that would generate electronic receipts. The use of electronic receipts may also open up customers to loss of their digital privacy.
The New York City Council members also failed to consider how customers use receipts. Shoppers often use their paper receipt as a checklist to confirm that they have received all items that they paid and to check whether they were overcharged for any item. Receipts also act as proof of purchase and make it easier for the store and the customer to carry out a product return or exchange.