A California lawmaker introduced legislation this week that would make the state the first to bar retailers from giving out printed receipts unless a customer requests them.
The proposed measure — Assembly Bill 161 — would require stores to use electronic receipts as the default option. Stores that give out printed receipts without first being asked by the customer could be subject to fines. If passed, the bill could have implications far beyond California, according to experts.
“There’s a negative impact on the environment with these receipts and the inability to recycle them,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who introduced the legislation.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Sacramento, the lawmaker said there are health concerns for consumers and store employees with some of the chemicals used in paper receipts. He acknowledged that some retailers — both large and small — have already started offering consumers the option to receive a digital receipt as an alternative.
California has been seen as an environmental trendsetter, and given its large market size a switch to e-receipts could encourage more retailers to curb the use of printed receipts. Last year, the state legislature passed a bill curbing the use of single-use plastic straws in California, and it’s already led to efforts in Oregon and elsewhere to adopt similar laws.