COVID-Fueled 10% Decline in Paper Receipts “Could Become Permanent”; Target Also Makes Progress.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 20, 2020 – As paper receipt usage sees a dramatic reduction because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CVS, the largest U.S. pharmacy chain, is responding to pressure from Green America and thousands of consumers and stopped using thermal receipt paper coated in Bisphenol S (BPS), an endocrine-disrupting chemical linked to health issues. The company has implemented phenol-free, recyclable paper in all its 10,000 stores across the country. Since 2017, Green America, the nation’s leading green economy organization, has urged CVS and other retailers to reduce paper receipt waste and toxicity through its Skip the Slip campaign.
Per Green America’s urging, CVS has also increased promotion of its digital receipt option which led to over one million new customer sign-ups in 2019. The company reports that its digital program has resulted in saving 49 million yards of receipt paper, which Green America estimates is more than enough paper to circle the globe.
Thousands of individuals have signed Green America’s petition to CVS and contacted the company on social media, which resulted in a dialogue between CVS and Green America to discuss receipt alternatives, reducing the length of receipts, providing digital opt-in prompts for customers to sign up for digital receipts, and switching to phenol-free, recyclable paper.
The new Skip the Slip report tracks the progress on receipt practices of 35 major companies, including CVS, Target, which has implemented phenol-free receipt paper and a digital receipt option, and Walmart, which offers a digital option at checkout (but still uses phenol-coated papers). Target received over 51,000 petitions from Mamavation urging the company to drop BPA and BPS from its receipts.
The report also discusses changes in thermal paper demand, which had been steadily increasing each year in the United States but declined since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. used 280,000 metric tons of thermal paper for receipts in 2019, but this has dipped to an estimated 252,000 tons in 2020. The decline could become permanent if consumers continue increased shopping from home and declining paper receipts at the register post-COVID.
“CVS’ changes to its receipt practices reflect the growing consumer demand for digital options and non-toxic, recyclable receipt paper,” said Beth Porter, Green America’s Climate Campaigns director. “We encourage the company to build on this progress by identifying the many more opportunities to reduce waste across its operations.”
Since 2017, Green America has campaigned to raise awareness on the unnecessary environmental impacts of paper receipts and the toxins coating paper receipts, most commonly BPA and BPS. Green America estimates that in 2020, U.S. receipt consumption will use over three million trees and nearly nine billion gallons of water. Receipt production requires the energy equivalent to operating nine million refrigerators a year and generates 297 million pounds of solid waste. Receipt production generates the greenhouse gas emission equivalent to over 400,000 cars on the road each year.
“Retailers are spending an estimated $282 million on thermal paper for receipts this year,” said Todd Larsen, Green America’s executive co-director. “Companies should be looking to digital options that are safer, cheaper and better for the environment.”
ABOUT GREEN AMERICA
Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses, investors, and consumers to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org
MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or firstname.lastname@example.org.