Receet Blog

Why Should You Switch to Digital Receipts? The Harms of Paper Receipts

Posted by Omar Barkawi on Sep 28, 2020 1:39:08 PM
Omar Barkawi


We encounter this simple question more than we think:

”Would you like a copy of your receipt?”


Think about your morning cup of coffee at the café, the lunch spot you frequent, or a simple trip to the gas station. All of these transactions are chances to notice how paper receipts play a role in the health of our planet and our bodies.

However, since a paper receipt is often the only proof of purchase for a customer and business, they have an important function for enabling refunds, detecting discrepancies, and for proving authorization in the event of a chargeback.

In short, paper receipts are significant. Research shows that thermal paper, used to print receipts for customers, is a growing trend in the United States and globally. While consumption is increasing, the cost of thermal paper is also increasing, meaning that thermal receipts are quickly becoming the most expensive and detrimental way to end a transaction.

We should be even more aware of our business practices like receipts because of their negative consequences. In fact, they pose environmental impacts and health risks that make them an important subject for business owners as well as conscious consumers.

Ultimately, the toll that receipts take on our planet and our personal health requires innovative, sustainable solutions. This post exposes the dangers, impacts, and risks of thermal receipt paper and turns toward the digital receipt solution, helping you learn how to do your part.

Dangers of Thermal Receipt Paper

You may not associate the word “receipt” with environmental and health dangers, but you should. The waste produced and resources consumed on the one hand printing thermal paper receipts is staggering. (They cut down millions of trees, use billions in water, and produce hundreds of millions in pure waste.)

On the other, well-documented health risks are a cause for serious concern for both employees and customers. The chemically-treated paper contains some of the most problematic toxins in consumer goods linked to defects and disease.

Practically speaking, thermal paper receipts also pose dangers to your business by being the most expensive and wasteful solution to recording transactions and demonstrating authorization. Customers already realize this in their preference for digital receipts that are never lost, damaged, or faded from heat exposure.

Finally, you miss important opportunities to improve brand image and market to customers by neglecting a digital receipt default. The benefits of using digital receipts are numerous, and missing out on the chance to bring these benefits to your business could have significant impacts on your business. It will no longer waste resources and will more easily reach customers through their smartphones, emails, and phone numbers.

The Environmental Impact of Thermal Paper Receipts

Few people realize that thermal receipt paper contributes to the use of over 3 million trees and 9 billion gallons of water annually in the United States alone. Their usage also generates over 4 billion pounds of CO2 there and 300 million pounds of landfill waste. Finally, paper receipts also use 250 million gallons of oil in their United States production. These are incredible statistics. Imagine the global impact of billions of people seeking paper receipts for all their transactions!

To give you an even clearer idea of the environmental cost of paper receipts, consider how it takes 390 gallons of oil to produce a ton of paper. That’s not considering the water and other resources required, but it should start inspiring you to consider an alternative.

You don’t need to be an activist to see that this is an unsustainable business practice. That’s because skipping receipts altogether would save around 12 billion pounds of CO2–the equivalent to one million cars. You can do your part to prevent millions of trees from logging for paper receipts, give your customers what they really want, and stop huge amounts of waste ending in landfills if you switch to digital receipts as a default for your transactions.

But, if we haven’t convinced you to “ditch the slip” just yet, consider the health risks they pose to everyone who comes in contact with the chemically-treated paper.

BPA/BPS Risks of Thermal Paper Receipts

Did you know that thermal paper receipts are coated with Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Bisphenol-S (BPS) which serve as color developers to print text?

These endocrine-disruptors reacts to the touch of your skin, absorbing the chemical coating into the body through your hands. BPA, for one, resembles a hormone found in our body, and it results in developmental, neurological, and reproductive problems. You may already know that BPA hurts fetal development and is associated with reproductive issues, diabetes, thyroid conditions, and many other health problems. Despite claims of using BPA-free paper, many businesses simply resort to BPS paper with similarly detrimental effects.

Those that handle these receipts have 30 percent more BPA and BPS in their bodies, making it a significant concern for businesses who care about the health and happiness of their employees and customers. Business owners who transition to digital receipts, therefore, show a commitment to protecting the health of both workers and consumers while protecting the environment from unnecessary damage.

Benefits of Dumping Paper Receipts as a Business Practice

The benefits of ditching paper receipts include environmental stewardship, health safety, and fiscal responsibility. They also provide some marketing and sales benefits that interest many business owners looking to boost profits and target customers for promotions.

To begin with, the truth is paper receipts are a relic of the past. First, they are damaging. They are a pain for businesses to manage, and they offer less value to customers who prefer the convenience of recording receipts digitally. In addition, they are printed on thermal paper that fades from heat exposure and is susceptible to ripping and loss. The cost itself is prohibitive: It can cost thousands to get set up for thermal paper receipts and hundreds to stock, store, and supply receipts every month.

Reducing or replacing paper receipts can be good for your business as well as the Earth. Some research shows that thermal paper receipts cost increasingly more as demand rises. Moreover, a shortage of leuco dye (used in thermal paper) drives the price up even further. Supermarket giants like Lidl have realized the savings possible through digital receipts saving hundreds of thousands of pounds.

There is also the concern that paper receipts are a sub-standard solution for proof of purchase. Not taking a receipt puts the customer at risk of they need to settle a dispute or receive a refund. And, businesses need their own way to record transactions and prove authorization.

As such, many global companies such as Apple and BestBuy push electronic receipts as a standard practice. With the increase in mobile devices and customer-facing mobile applications, smaller businesses are now following suit. According to Epsilon, over a third of retailers are opting to offer and prefer the digital receipt.

The marketing benefits of digital receipts are also helpful. You can tailor your receipts digitally to your business needs while setting up targeted promotions to push to smartphones. At the same time, you can reduce or eliminate fraud such as return scams through an airtight system for receipts.

In all, digital receipts continue to attract many businesses and customers because they replace a faulty option for recording transactions, a health risk, an environmental detriment, and offer more opportunities to reach customers where they are. We detailed many of these benefits in our recent post, “11 Things You Need to Know About Digital Receipts.”

How You Can Offer Digital Receipts with Receet

To cut operating costs, reduce waste, and lessen environmental impacts, businesses can replace thermal paper receipts with immediate alternatives—such as digital receipts—through Receet, a digital receipts app.

Receet is an innovative company lessening the environmental impact and reducing the health risks of thermal paper receipts. For both employees and customers, they help deploy solutions that eliminate wasteful and damaging phenol-coated paper.

If anything, the biggest concern for customers is privacy when sharing email addresses or phone numbers for digital receipts. Receet can help as a digital receipt platform that allows customers to get receipts using NFC. It can be used for all kinds of purchases including online shopping, banking transactions, cash and credit card payments.

Receet can improve your sustainability and promote a positive brand image with customers through your conscious concern. Many customers consider your sustainable reputation in making purchase decisions and maintaining loyalty. While they may not want to pay a premium for green products, they may at least join the movement to be more socially responsible by dumping thermal paper receipts.

Finally, Receet will make it easier for you to process returns, file taxes, and produce expense reports all from your phone. We plan to integrate with accounting software like Xero and to make it even easier to actually use your receipts rather than tuck them away in the trash.

Adapt your business. Ditch the slip. Start generating savings and contributing to healthy people and a strong planet, contact Receet for a demo.


Topics: paper receipts, digital receipts, e-receipts