Ending receipts and reducing paper use

According to the New York Times, some major retailers in the US are eliminating paper receipts, small pieces of paper that have been estimated to consume 9.6 million trees a year. Instead of a paper receipt, the customer will receive an electronic receipt by email.

This idea seems long overdue. GallonDaily is often amazed by the number of retailers, especially smaller stores, which ask each customer whether they want a receipt and, in many cases receiving a reply in the negative, crumple the just printed receipt and toss it in the trash. At the very least, it would seem more responsible, both for the environment and for their bottom line, to ask the question before printing the receipt and then hitting a button on the register to print a receipt only if the customers chooses the receipt option. Though BPA-free options are available, thermally-printed receipts are still a significant source of the toxic substance bisphenol-A.

A number of companies are vying for the email receipt business. Among them, Merchant Customer Exchange (http://www.mcx.com/) has been formed recently by a group of US retailers. Maybe retailers will understand better than some other companies that consumer acceptance of e-receipts will depend in significant part on who gets to see the data and what they use it for.  There also needs to be a standard format so that customers can file their receipts and perhaps use them as a useful source of information about their purchases.

The NY Times take on this topic is at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/technology/digital-receipts-at-stores-gain-in-popularity.html

and the online US journal GreenBiz.com has a thoughtful article at http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/08/24/walmart-best-buy-kill-paper-receipts

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