New York City looks to regulate store receipts

A bill in California to regulate receipts failed this summer.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The New York City Council will consider four bills to regulate paper receipts.

The backers claim they will provide consumers with the option of declining a paper receipt in exchange for an e-receipt, require businesses to recycle receipts, and one would require businesses to use alternatives to receipt paper that do not use BPA/BPS.

"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.

One bill would require retail stores to maintain equipment that is capable of providing e-receipts to customers, with an exception for small businesses that can prove financial hardship for purchasing or maintaining such equipment. 

Paper receipts use an estimated 10 million trees each year, according to bill sponsors.

"Buying a candy bar shouldn't require a four-foot receipt," said Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection.

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, chemicals that some studies have shown can have adverse effects on the human body. The EU has already prohibited BPA receipts starting in 2020.

A bill in the California legislature that would have required stores to ask consumers if they wanted receipts failed in committee this summer.