On January 7, 2019, California Assemblyman Phil Ting introduced Assembly Bill 161 which would prohibit businesses from providing paper receipts except upon request, citing “significant positive environmental and public health effects.” The goal of the Bill is to reduce consumers’ exposure to chemicals contained on paper receipts, such as BPA, and to reduce the carbon footprint.

The Bill is part of a series of legislative actions taken in California involving energy concerns facing the state. If the Bill passes, it would require all retailers, small and large, to comply by January 1, 2022. Additionally, the Bill provides that a retailer’s first and second violations will result in a warning, and each subsequent violation shall result in “a fine of twenty-five dollars ($25) for each day the business is in violation, but not to exceed three hundred dollars ($300) annually.” Notably, many large retailers have already implemented this electronic receipt practice, including Apple, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Best Buy. In fact, through their e-receipt practice, these retailers have access to information that allows them to better consumers’ experiences.

Notwithstanding the sustainable impact on the environment, the Bill does pose some risks. There are privacy concerns involved in an electronic receipt system that retailers and legislators must be mindful of. For example, retailers typically require a consumer to provide an e-mail address in order to receive an electronic receipt which could require additional analysis regarding privacy issues. As consumers’ data have become increasingly targeted by bad actors, it is important that retailers have reasonable cyber-security programs in place to avoid attempted data breaches prior to implementing any electronic receipt system.