One simple way to reduce waste and prevent unnecessary consumption of materials is to be more conscious about the decisions we make on a daily basis.
In France, this has become even easier, as shoppers will now only be given a paper receipt if they ask for one.
While providing paper receipts will still be compulsory for garages, hairdressers, hotels, and restaurants, according to Euronews, most places will no longer have to pass you a slip of paper after a purchase.
Service Public reported automatic receipt printing ended on August 1, and that will stop the waste caused by the 30 billion receipts printed in France every year.
Receipts are a problem when it comes to recycling because, according to Wasteland Rebel, thermal paper typically has a plastic coating that features Bisphenol A (BPA). These chemicals can contaminate recycled paper if receipts get into the recycling process.
Furthermore, BPA chemicals are linked with a number of health issues. Research published on the National Library of Medicine‘s website linked BPAs to breast and prostate cancer, premature puberty, and male and female infertility, including lowered sperm counts.
For people who handle receipts every day for work, this is particularly alarming. Organic chemist John C. Warner told Science News: “The biggest exposures [of BPAs], in my opinion, will be these cash register receipts.”
“When people talk about polycarbonate bottles, they talk about nanogram quantities of BPA [leaching out],” he added. “The average cash register receipt that’s out there and uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.”
And that’s not to mention the litter caused by the little slips of paper. It’s not unusual to see balled-up receipts blowing down the street like tiny bits of tumbleweed that can enter the water supply or contaminate animal habitats.
So, France’s decision is undoubtedly a positive step for public health, environmental consideration, and the saving of resources.
A similar move is being pushed in California, with the “Skip the Slip” bill aiming to cut the number of unwanted receipts printed on a daily basis.
San Francisco assemblyman Phil Ting is leading this charge, using statistics from Green America to say at a press conference in May that receipts come at the expense of “3 million trees, 10 billion gallons of water, 302 million pounds of waste on the backside.”
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