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California businesses could be forced to switch from paper to email receipts

Posted at 8:18 PM, Mar 24, 2019

Straws and plastic bags are already blacklisted in California and now, some lawmakers want to paper receipts to join the ranks.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Phil Ting, is being hailed as a bill to “skip the slip” by mandating a transition from paper to email receipts.

Cheyne Orndoff, a San Luis Obispo resident, said his experience at CVS Sunday exemplifies a need for the legislation.

“Just one item I purchased and I was even like dang, wow, that’s taking a long time to print out,” Orndoff said of the 4-foot-long receipt he received for the one item he purchased.

Ornoff said he’s always annoyed to receive such a long receipt, which he typically throws in the garbage can outside the shop entrance.

“99.9 percent of the time, it goes straight into the trash can,” Orndoff said. “I think they should probably just email them to you.”

That’s the idea behind AB 161, which would force businesses that earn over $1 million a year to switch to cyber receipts, in an effort to curb waste and impacts to the environment.

“It takes up to 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water in the U.S. every year to produce these receipts,” Ting (D- San Francisco) said at a press conference earlier this year.

Ting sourced data from Green America, a non-profit organization based in the United States that promotes ethical consumerism.

“Guess what, they can’t be recycled because of the BPA,” Ting said.

BPA, or Bisphenol A, is an organic synthetic compound which can present serious health issues to people.

But shoppers like Dawn Tomastik, a SLO resident, aren’t on board with plans to stop using paper receipts.

“A lot of old school things aren’t bad,” Tomastik said. “They need to keep some of these. I don’t like the online thing.”

Tomastik said the CVS clerk asked her if she wanted an online receipt but she declined.

“I like paper, I want to see it, I want to cut it, I want to know what I have,” Tomastik said. “I’m visual.”

Under the proposed law, customers like Tomastik could still request a paper slip. But other opponents argue that a move to email receipts increase cybersecurity risks for consumers in the event that the store’s database is hacked.

If the bill is passed, it would go into effect in 2022. Any business in violation would pay a fine of $25 per day up to $300 per year.

California would become the first state to mandate email receipts if the bill passes.