City Council Looking to Reduce Paper Receipt Waste

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York)
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York)

There’s no reason why a minor purchase should come with a foot-long receipt – and the City Council is planning to do something about it.

The City Council will be holding several upcoming hearings on proposals to regulate store receipt usage. The proposals are intended to both reduce paper waste and to limit exposure to the harmful chemicals used in receipt paper.

“Nobody needs foot-long receipts,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen). “We will work with businesses and consumers to cut out paper receipt waste and protect the planet. Let’s not print receipts when they aren’t wanted, especially when we have technology to issue environmentally-friendly alternatives.”

Receipts account for the consumption of 3 million trees annually in the U.S. alone, according to Green America. Even worse, the majority of receipts use BPA or BPS, industrial chemicals which can adversely affect the human body. The new proposals aim to address both of these problems.

Int. 290 would require stores and banks to recycle receipts, while Int. 291 would restrict the use of BPA- or BPS-coated paper and require that all receipts be printed on recyclable material. Int. 629 would require retail stores to ask consumers for permission before providing paper receipts. Finally, Int. 1614 would require said stores to maintain point-of-sale devices that can issue e-receipts.

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood), who is sponsoring Int. 290 and 291, said that this is a step we need to take if we want to uphold our reputation as an eco-friendly city.

“We need to change the ways we dispose of our waste if we wish to become the most environmentally friendly City in the country,” said Rodriguez. “We have seen the impacts that climate change has had on our world especially to the underserved, immigrant, and poor communities in our country. My two bills will ensure that we use recyclable material to print recipes and that we dispose of them appropriately to reduce our waste. I will continue working alongside my colleagues and advocates as we explore new ways to decrease our emissions and our ecological footprint.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Queens) concurred, adding that our end goal should be phasing out paper receipts entirely.

“Buying a candy bar shouldn’t require a four-foot receipt,” said Constantinides. “Yet many retailers burn through unnecessary amounts of paper while exposing millions of New Yorkers to harmful toxins. I look forward to a day when these receipts are tossed out for good. Thanks to Speaker Corey Johnson for tackling this issue and for dedicating the City Council to lead the way on a more sustainable future.”