Receipts Should be Canned

Receipts are paper. Paper is recyclable. Therefore, receipts are recyclable — QED.

This has been my logic for several years. But receipts are not made of paper, they are made of thermal paper, and there is a difference

Thermal paper changes color when heated, which eliminates the need for ink when printing a receipt. In order to work, thermal paper is coated with different materials, often including BPA — the same chemical you see warnings about on plastic water bottles. Because receipts are more than just paper, receipts are NOT recyclable.

The solution? Opt-in for e-receipts when you can, and decline “paper” receipts if you have the option. Keep in mind, the cashier often throws away your receipt for you, which means there was still a receipt printed for your transaction. The easiest way to avoid receipts waste would be to buy less stuff of course 🙂

Email the Receipt?

If you want your receipt to be delivered via email, you will have to give your email to the merchant. This usually means you will start receiving promotions from companies that you don’t want emailing you. This can be frustrating.

This Tech Crunch article details some of these e-receipt woes and offers a better solution.

Well, if you think about it, the receipt is, in many ways, an extension of the payment transaction itself — a more detailed version. Why not store it against that? I’m sure there would be a huge show of hands if I asked how many times anyone has looked at their bank statement and wondered about the details of a particular transaction; whether it is an unfamiliar business name or just wanting to be reminded of what they bought at the hardware store a few weeks back.

Yes, I would be one of those people raising my hand. This article advocates a system where your receipts are tied directly back to your bank/credit card accounts.  This doesn’t solve the receipt problem if you are paying cash, but it does solve the problem for the majority of my own transactions.

It turns out that the guy who wrote the Tech Crunch article is part of an initiative called Receipt Reliance which seeks to implement a system whereby receipts are stored against your online banking accounts. I’ll be keeping an eye on their progress. I think it is a cool idea!