There are many reasons for your employer to move to digital receipts, and the most important is the health of staff who regularly handle paper receipts. You can be an advocate for changing this outdated and unsustainable practice at your place of work, whether it be retail, a restaurant, or a pharmacy. Below you can find talking points which make the case for moving to digital receipts from an economic and environmental perspective. You may use these in an email or letter to your employer, and if you would like Green America’s assistance in this, please feel free to contact us here.
Also, you can take these immediate steps to reduce contact with thermal paper receipts while asking your employer to move to better practices:
- Confirm whether or not your receipt paper is thermal and has BPA or BPS coating by contacting the company you purchase receipt paper from.
- Share information on environmental and human health impacts of paper receipts with other employees.
- Ask customers “Do you want your receipt?" rather than automatically printing it.
- You can wear nitrile gloves to decrease BPA exposure if your job requires contact with thermal paper receipts.
- Always wash your hands after touching receipts using soap and water instead of using alcohol-based hand sanitizers (which increase BPA and BPS absorption).
PAPER RECEIPTS & HUMAN HEALTH
Thermal paper receipts on the market are frequently coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA) or Bisphenol-S (BPS), hormone-disruptors. Scientists have linked BPA exposure to certain cancers, reduced fertility, and diabetes and research has shown BPA is responsible for an estimated $3 billion a year in costs associated with childhood obesity and adult heart disease (and that’s the conservative estimate). Canada has declared BPA to be toxic and has banned it from many products. Scientists are working rapidly to develop a method which extracts BPA from waterways. It’s clear that the chemical is dangerous to human health.
Some companies sought out “non-BPA” paper, but replaced it with BPS: a similar, substitute chemical. Studies observe BPS may be just as harmful as BPA, but there is less awareness of the dangers of BPS among the public. The European Commissions has issued a ban on BPA in thermal paper to begin in 2020, but no such initiative has occurred in the US, with the exception of Connecticut which banned the use of BPA in thermal paper in 2011.
BPA and BPS react with other chemicals and heat to develop ink on thermal receipt paper. Multiple studies indicate the connection, and in one French study which analyzed BPA exposure in 90 cashiers and non-occupationally exposed workers from different workplaces, it was concluded that cashiers handling daily thermal paper receipts had a significant increase in urinary total BPA concentration, despite hand washing, frequency of contact, or age. In fact, there has shown to be an increased level of BPA absorption if your hands are moist from sanitizer or lotion. Dr. John C. Warner, of the University of Massachusetts and the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, has done extensive testing on the issue, and observes the average cash register receipt with BPA coating will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA. Retail workers are shown to have on average 30% more BPA in their systems than other adults. While it is uncertain precisely how much is directly influenced by workers' contact with thermal paper receipts, many retailers have made the choice to move away from using these papers in their stores.
BPA & BPS are easily transferred to anything touching the paper in mere seconds, including our hands. In order to ensure the health and safety of your employees, your company must find alternatives from BPA and BPS coated thermal receipt paper. Digital receipts offer many benefits along with reducing threats to your staff’s health.
DIGITAL RECEIPTS INCREASE YOUR COMPANY’S:
Your customers will enjoy greater security using paperless receipts. If your customers are using a credit card or electronic payment (two thirds of bills are paid electronically, and it’s forecasted that mobile payments will be used by 56% of consumers by 2020) they can opt to receive an emailed receipt to the email which is connected to their bank.
You can use this method as a way of asking if your customer would like to opt into regular updates from your company. Customers have shown to prefer digital receipts but to resent and on some cases cut ties with companies that endlessly pester through online marketing ploys. By asking and not assuming or forcing customers to opt into communications, you are setting your company apart from these other companies in a positive way. Marketing opportunities should solely exist through the single receipt email, and customers can be asked if they’d like additional information by being added to a list. This way customers can know their boundaries and security are being respected.
Consumers love digital receipts because they make transactions faster and it’s much easier for them to search for receipts in the event of a return or for tax purposes. Being able to search for a specific company in a folder of emailed digital receipts is far better than ruffling through crumpled paper slips in the bottom of a bag or box. Purchasing transactions are made smoother and faster so your customers can move on with their day without being encumbered by waiting for a receipt to print or on a cashier to load new paper.
For restaurants with multiple stations, and each station using its own printer, receipt usage can double the number of receipts given to customers. Since the main purpose of multiple receipts for patrons is to prove tip amount, having a digital record of this prevents tips from being manually entered incorrectly and reduces time spent for servers.
Every year in the US, over 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water are consumed in the creation of paper receipts, generating 686 million pounds of waste and 12 billion pounds of CO2. And 93% of thermal paper receipts should not be recycled, since they are coated with BPA or BPS, which could contaminate other recycled fiber. Values of environmental sustainability are only going up with customers, and for your company to remain competitive, it’s essential to evolve your business practices to reduce environmental impact. Switching to digital receipts will help your company meet sustainability goals of waste reduction and following through with your commitment will keep you relevant with today and tomorrow’s increasingly green-minded customer base. There have even been petitions to Congress by individuals demanding businesses only give receipts when asked. Your company can be a leader in digital receipts or it can be left behind.
Please contact Green America today to explore ways of reducing and eliminating thermal paper receipt use.