Small Paper Slips, Big Problems
In the US, over 12.4 million trees and 13 billion gallons of water are consumed each year in the creation of paper receipts, generating 1.5 billion pounds of waste and 4 billion pounds of CO2. Paper products fill over one quarter of all solid waste in landfills, including receipts. These seemingly innocuous small paper slips also collectively undermine businesses' attempts at increasing sustainability.
Additionally, an estimated 93% of paper receipts are coated with BPA (the same chemical banned from plastic bottles) or BPS (a similar replacement chemical), and should not be recycled1. Well-meaning consumers who try to recycle them can contaminate recovered fiber. Research suggests that these paper receipts can contribute to human health issues. BPA is shown to contribute to developmental, reproductive, and neurological problems2.
Nearly every U.S. consumer handles a dozen paper receipts every week, and retail store employees may touch thousands in the same time. Retail workers are shown to have on average 30% more BPA in their systems than other adults and many employees may exceed the European Union’s limit for safe amount of BPA to absorb in a day (which is 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight)3.
As of 2014, nearly 81 percent of Americans were shown to have detectable levels of BPS in their urine, and nearly 90% of human exposure to BPS comes from thermal paper receipts coated with the substance. Many retailers are already making the choice to move away from using these papers, but the majority of stores still need to take action.
Paper receipts are unnecessary and are often quickly thrown away seconds after being printed. Innovative companies are moving to offer digital or no receipt options. Our goal is to reduce the enormous use of paper, energy, and water for receipts by urging major companies to follow this movement and offer paperless receipt options to their customers.
Skip the Slip is one of the first initiatives in the United States to analyze environmental impacts of receipt waste, propose financially-savvy solutions to businesses to end their use of paper receipts, and engage customers in taking action.
Green America's Skip the Slip report highlights cost-effective digital and non-toxic solutions for retailers to protect their employees and customers, and reduce their impacts on the environment, while reducing fraud and increasing sales. Businesses will walk away from this report with a deeper understanding of the surprising impacts receipts have on the environment and human health, and also be equipped with next steps for better receipt practices. Access the full report here.
Ways to Take Action Today
- Take the pledge to Skip the Slip here (and share with your friends!)
- If you have a business looking to stop using paper receipts, please review the report above and contact us to learn more.
- If you’re an employee concerned about receipt contact through your work, check out our resource on skipping the slip in the workplace below.
- If you get a long paper receipt, you can tweet a photo and tag the company that provided it, like "@companyname: your receipts are wasteful and unnecessary. Please #skiptheslip with @GreenAmerica today"