Nanny State

Having Won the War Against Straws, California Mulls a Crackdown on Paper Receipts

A new bill would fine businesses up to $300 for giving customers unsolicited paper receipts.


Screenshot via Youtube

Emboldened by successfully restricting access to plastic straws, California's busybody legislators are now mulling a crackdown on another ubiquitous feature of our consumer society: the paper receipt.

On Monday, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D–San Francisco) introduced a bill that would require businesses to provide their customers with an electronic receipt unless they specifically requested a paper one, in an effort to both cut down on waste and protect human health from the deadly chemicals found on paper receipts.

"It's common sense legislation. We think it's minimal cost, and we think it's really putting the power back in the consumers," said Ting at a press conference, standing next to an expressionless aide wearing a giant paper receipt costume on which were written fun facts about the bill.

Ting's bill is modelled explicitly on the state's recently passed straw-on-request bill, down to the penalties.

Any default provision of a physical receipt would expose the paper proof-of-purchase providing proprietor to daily fines of $25, capped at $300 per year—a carbon copy of the fines restaurateurs face for handing out unsolicited plastic straws.

The similarities between the two policies do not end there.

Straw bans got their start with a number of well-marketed advocacy campaigns from environmental nonprofits with catchy, alliterative names like 'Strawless in Seattle' or 'Skip the Straw.'

Ting's bill likewise draws both its inspiration and most of its facts and figures from nonprofit Green America's Skip the Slip campaign—which does its best to hype the environmental impact and health risks of paper receipts.

According to a May 2018 report from Green America, America's yearly receipt usage costs us 10 million trees and another 21 billion gallons of water. The group also warns that some 93 percent of receipts come coated in Bisphenol-S (BPS) or Bisphenol-A (BPA), everyone's favorite chemicals to hate.

On closer inspection, neither of these data points seem like much to worry about.

The average American uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water a day, which works out to be about 10 to 12 trillion gallons a year for the whole country. About 15 billion trees are estimated to be felled each year globally. Paper receipts are a rounding error.

Reason's Ron Bailey has likewise cataloged how health concerns over BPA—often found in products like water bottles and plastic utensils—are largely unfounded. Green America's report gives few reasons for why BPA on receipts—a product that is not touching the food you eat or the water you drink—would be a concern.

It was the same story with plastic straws, which—despite all the fuss—make up minuscule percentages of beach litter and marine plastic debris.

Passing some sort of receipt-on-request law will not do much to improve the health of California's environment or its residents. If anything, it will ensure that more of them are coaxed into giving over their data for an electronic receipt, which will almost certainly increase digital litter in their inboxes.

It is true that receipts, unlike straws, are becoming less relevant as more and more purchases are digitized. Nevertheless, it should be up to businesses and consumers to figure out how they want to record their purchases.

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  1. CVS hardest hit.

    1. Well, we must protect America’s precious bodily fluids.

    2. Costco hardest hit. Are they going to check your email before you can leave?

  2. Doin’ right ain’t got no end.

  3. Wait… is that picture real? If that picture is real, that’s some serious Veep shit right there.

    1. It is my firm belief that Veep is the truest dramatization of our government/politics that’s ever been made.

      I hope Jonah RYAN gets his own show some day

  4. So proud they will be of this legislation they will print hundreds of copies to hand out.

    1. I’ll admit I’m curious what the ticket will be written on. Will they be giving it to me unsolicited?

  5. It never ends with these people.

  6. The People’s Republic of Kalifornia doesn’t go far enough.
    They need to wage war against humans and make all two legged mammals illegal to exist in their beloved socialist utopia.
    Then, and only then, will this wonderful, wise and cohesive state finally obtain the progressive nirvana they have strived so hard to achieve.

  7. “protect human health from the deadly chemicals found on paper receipts.”

    You know what requires more deadly chemicals than paper receipts? Manufacturing the crap you buy. So clearly, the solution to the health problem identified is to make it illegal to make or sell anything.

    1. You know it’s deadly from all the cashiers, tellers, bankers, and similar workers’ bodies you have to step over every time you want to pay for something.

      1. Mimeograph fluid exposure. Uh, oh.

        1. Gestetner fluid. Now that was some good shit.

  8. The stupidest part of this (that it came from a rep from the disease vector known as San Francisco is hardly surprising) is that most businesses already either give you the option of getting a receipt or having one emailed to you.

    1. Really? No supermarket, drug store or other business I have ever dealt with has ever–ever–asked me if I wanted the receipt to be emailed.

  9. They are annoying. You are out running around and pretty much buying something every 15 minutes. Who needs a receipt for every cup of coffee or bag of chips. They tend to accumulate in my car for some reason.

    Why not just ask if you want one like a lot of places do.

    1. How hard is it to say “I don’t need a receipt” and not take it?

      1. Not permitted in a Progressive state. You must not think for yourself in a Progressive state.

      2. Half the time they just shove it in your hand with the change or stick it in the bag.

        Like when you order at the drive thru

        “I’ll have a #7 but no drink”

        “It comes with the drink. What would you like to drink?”

        ” But I don’t want the drink. Can’t you just charge me for a #7 and leave it out?”

        “It comes with a drink”

  10. I think the paper puns and alliteration added a nice touch to drive home the point.

  11. Without paper receipts it will be soooo much easier to just make up deductions!

    1. Not to mention trip expenses.

  12. I agree. Paper receipts are a leading cause of gall bladder disease in Malaysian desert river ferrets. It is known.

  13. Oooh… Not the paper receipts! The horror!!! Good things those evil straws were obliterated…

    I’m so glad I don’t live in CA!

    1. So are we.

  14. Paper? I want a war on toilet paper! Californians can wipe their butts with poison ivy leaves!

  15. I always request a printed receipt. The last thing I need is to be added to some email database that frequently sends me unsolicited garbage.

    1. Use this:

    2. Agreed Cosmo man and who wants to hold up the line while the clerk trys to get everyones email correct although when pressed to give emails i give fake ones

    3. Clearly the answer is to use this lawmaker’s email address

  16. The leftists whole mindset is I like something therefore I’m going to force you to do what I want. What an evil ideology.

  17. We think it’s minimal cost

    Businesses don’t.

    Consumers are going to avoid email receipts like the plague. When I buy something, the last thing I want to do is dawdle around giving another merchant my email address or phone number. Especially if it’s cash and anonymous.

    What a bunch of fuckin’ maroons.

      1. Yes, this.

    1. It is just a way to make sure every transaction is recorded. Once e receipts are mandatory, there will be no privacy argument for cash.

      1. Only if you give your correct email address.

  18. Ye gods, let’s just stipulate that you are crazy and move on.

  19. I just looked it up, and this is the email I will use for this nonsense:

  20. I’m still fascinated with the intern they talked into wearing the receipt costume. I’d have killed to have a front row seat during that conversation.

    1. “Hey, Billy Intern, we have a GREAT opportunity for you ….”

  21. unsolicited paper receipts

    Nice band name.

  22. “It’s common sense legislation. We think it’s minimal cost”

    OK, Phil — How much do “we think” it costs?

  23. Trees are crops.If you aren’t growing them for paper, you grow them for something else. Exactly 0 trees will be “saved” by this.

    1. Renewable resource, right?

    2. “Trees are crops.If you aren’t growing them for paper, you grow them for something else. Exactly 0 trees will be “saved” by this.”

      Pretty sure it was David Friedman who drew the analogy to cows: If you want more of something, make it a consumable.

    3. Not to mention all those selfless trees are sucking up carbon dioxide like it was the lifeblood itself, and emitting nasty oxygen.

  24. Since I have been shipping plastic straws to Commifornia leaders, I guess cardboard boxes are not on the hit list yet?

    I guess that I will include my receipts for purchases of cardboard boxes, foam peanuts, and plastic straws.

    1. do you tell them where to put those straws?

  25. no law needed, many place already give you alternatives and the law will only force more waiting time at the counter while the poor clerk tries to get your email correct so they can email you a receipt. I always take receipts for record keeping.

  26. the other issue is every cashier station will now have to be connected to the internet and every mom and pop shop will have to buy more equipment but the real danger here is that with every purchase on the internet the state can monitor every purchase including ammo purchases but California will be doing that soon any way.

  27. Time for someone to spam the California State Legislature with a DHMO petition.

  28. Entirely missing the fact that businesses pay for the paper used to print said receipt, and that, therefore, they already have an incentive to reduce said paper receipts, and that such will be mostly obsolete in a decade, anyways.
    Also, you know who else tried to reduce papers from being widely dispersed?

  29. I have wondered what dumb-ass idea will be next after the soda straw thing. What’s really impressive is how fast this came around.

    1. I thought it would be non-edible cigarette filters.

      1. DiHydrogen Monoxide.

  30. “Any default provision of a physical receipt would expose the paper proof-of-purchase providing proprietor to daily fines of $25, capped at $300 per year?a carbon copy of the fines restaurateurs face for handing out unsolicited plastic straws.”

    1. Carbon copies get a 50 dollar fine.

  31. Actually, I could live with that.

  32. This bill will never pass until there is a youtube video of a bloody receipt being pulled from a turtle’s nose.

  33. I expect that buried somewhere in the fine print is a modest tax to provide cell phones, home PCs, and high speed internet for those who cannot currently use the magnificent e-receipts.
    And a huge staff of perverts to follow everyone who actually asks for a paper receipt, and report on what they are up to.

  34. Not to mention that trees and water are 100% renewable.

    No one’s running out of water (except maybe SoCal and Las Vegas if the drought continues).
    California would have unlimited water if they had bothered to invest in desalination plants instead of a future train to Merced.

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  36. I must admit that I’m a tiny, tiny bit sympathetic, at least in the case of CVS receipts. I mean, seriously, do they really have to give you a yard of paper every time you buy a pack of chewing gum?

    1. I suggest the invention of garbage cans for disposal of unwanted paper receipts.

    2. I suggest the invention of garbage cans for disposal of unwanted paper receipts.

  37. “Yes, I want a two-by-four-inch receipt thermally printed on thin, cheap, eco-friendly recycled paper. Oh, ‘that’s immoral according to an arbitrary code of green-virtue-signalling laws laid out by a swarm of directionless and ineffectual slavers and thus not allowed,’ you say? In that case, can you print one for yourself and just fax me a copy instead? Oh, email only? Okay, I’ll print it on non-recycled, heavy weight, eight-and-a-half-by-eleven paper with non-biodegradable ink. Ten times. Sorry this conversation took five minutes while my diesel idled in the parking lot.”

    And anyone involved in banning plastic bags can come right on over and pick up my dog’s shit from the neighbor’s front yard with their bare hands. These assholes have even brainwashed my step-daughter, who is generally liberal-tarian, into vapid moralizing about fringey non-problems like straws and receipts while thoughtlessly consuming and disposing in a landfill her own weight in plastic cosmetics (micro-beads oh-noes!) containers on a weekly basis–this from the teenager who seemingly checks to make sure all the lights in the house are on and that the thermostat is set to ‘freeze’ or ‘inferno’ (depending on the season) prior to leaving the house.

    –And when I am checking out at CVS, first thing I say is “no receipt please.” Takes about 1.5 seconds.

  38. America’s yearly receipt usage costs us 10 million trees

    eedjits don’t understand that NO trees are felled for making paper unless they were planted for that specific purpose, or are “waste” trees, not marketablr as wood products of any type. So, whole the number may be accurate, the IMPLICATION that healthy trees otherwise useful are diverted and “wasted” in making paper. This is nonsense, it does not happen.

    Further, I DO NOT WANT electronic receipts, ever. I steadfastly refuse desparate attempts to “switch to paperless” for statements, etc. and they are endless. What is amusing is that these same entities begging me to “go paperless” ALSO send multi-page “bills” with several pages of useless stuff, adverts and promotions, and fluff… the entire “meat” of the statement can most times be printed on one half sheet of paper. They also incude a new cover, or envelope, EVERY MONTH, even though I’ve been paying electronically for years. They don’t want to save paper, else they’d SAVE PAPER. But they do not.

  39. Once you understand that California lawmakers are incompetent at everything except for the piecemeal removal of freedoms, it all makes sense.

    California may have the worse roads and schools in the nation, but at least it have some of the highest sales and income taxes in the nation proving that money does not always lead to happiness.

  40. One must admit that CVS’s receipts are obnoxious.

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