As of August 1, 2023, France is set to make a significant stride towards environmental sustainability by ending the automatic printing of receipts. This move is part of the country’s broader efforts to reduce waste and promote a circular economy, as outlined in France’s anti-waste law for a circular economy (la loi anti-gaspillage pour une économie circulaire).
The decision to halt automatic receipt printing comes in response to the staggering statistic that over 30 billion receipts are printed annually in France, with a significant portion ending up as waste. In fact, a survey found that more than a third of French consumers discard their receipts immediately after purchase. This practice not only contributes to excessive waste but also exposes individuals to potentially harmful chemical substances present in thermal paper used for receipts.
This new regulation will apply to a wide range of retailers, including all supermarkets. However, it does not encompass all transactions. Service providers will continue to issue receipts as usual, and consumers will receive a receipt when purchasing equipment. Moreover, customers can request a receipt from the retailer, which can be delivered via email or text message. Retailers are required to inform customers of this option through a display at the till.
While some supermarkets, such as Carrefour and SuperU, have already ceased offering automatic paper receipts, the new rules mean that all stores will no longer provide customers with one after a purchase. The change includes an end to paper receipts for till receipts produced in shops.
However, there are exceptions to the rule. Receipts will still be automatically printed for expensive items like household appliances, sports equipment, cameras, and other electronic products. They will also be issued in the case of a cancelled or credited bank card transaction, for a voucher that must be shown to obtain a product or service, or for items purchased via weighing them.
In addition to reducing waste, this move also aims to protect public health by limiting exposure to harmful chemicals found in receipt paper. It’s a significant step towards a more sustainable future, and it’s hoped that other countries will follow suit.
This change was initially scheduled for January 1, 2023, but was postponed to allow retailers more time to adapt to the new rules. Despite the delay, the move is a testament to France’s commitment to environmental activism and its larger role in Europe’s fight against waste.