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).
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.