For a long time, California has been a leader in green policies across the nation. Laws that ban plastic bags and restrict plastic straw use have recently been enacted. The state and its lawmakers are always looking for ways to clean up the state, and the world. That is why one of the latest bills going through the state legislature is not that big of a surprise.
A new bill circulating through the state legislature is aimed at reducing the amount of paper waste that is produced within California. Assembly Bill (AB) 161 seeks to eliminate paper receipts, thereby reducing the amount of waste California produces.
Meet Assembly Bill 161
AB 161 was authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting from San Francisco. Paper receipts are a big culprit of wasted resources. This becomes very obvious when a person considers how long the average person holds onto a receipt. In most cases, the person keeps the piece of paper long enough to reach the nearest trash can. That is, if they hold onto it that long.
Then, there are the businesses that give out ridiculously large paper receipts. CVS in particular is notorious for giving out huge receipts due to all of the coupons they add onto the bottom. In some instances, people have taken to social media to post pictures of receipts that are as tall as refrigerators.
In addition to the short use of receipts, is the fact that the paper often has to be too thin to be made from recycled sources, and the chemicals on the paper prevent it from being recycled in the future.
It is estimated that the state of California produces around 180,000 tons of paper receipts every year.
This new bill seeks to reduce this waste by requiring all business to give receipts electronically, either through text messages or through email. Paper receipts would only be provided if the customer asked for one. If passed, businesses would have until 2022 to begin providing clients with paperless receipts. Businesses who failed to follow this new law would receive up to 2 warnings before facing fines of up to $25 a day, with a max annual fine of $300.
Not Everyone Supports the Bill
As with any new bill, there is opposition to AB 161. For starters, many business associations are against this bill due to the expected cost of creating a system capable of providing electronic receipts. They argue that, while such a system is possible, not every company is capable of affording one.
Another group against the new bill is the American Forest and Paper Association. This association comes from the paper industry and argues that 180,000 tons of paper is just a small percentage of all the paper waste created by the state. Getting rid of paper receipts isn’t going to make a huge difference.
Yet another group against the bill is the California Grocers Association. They argue that they use paper receipts to help reduce shoplifting. They check customer receipts at the exit to ensure that a person doesn’t walk off with items they didn’t actually pay for. This has been especially helpful since shoppers began using their own, reusable bags.
Lawmakers are currently looking into some of the concerns to come up with ways to address them.
Should California Do This?
As California lawmakers look to reduce even more waste created by the state, AB 161 could be the next step in the process. There is no denying that most receipts are wasted the minute they are printed. However, not all of them are bad or without their use.