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Paper payment receipts are about to disappear in France: is it really a sustainable measure?

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

There is little left until the new "French Revolution". Starting from the 1st August 2023 paper copy payment receipts will be banned throughout France. This measure follows the application of Law No. 2020-105 dated 10th February 2020 focused on reducing waste production while pushing circular economy, Thus, cash tickets will no longer be automatically printed by merchants but consumers will have the chance to request their issue. However, this new regulatory framework is about to create a relevant social and economic change. The provision has a deep environmental and health background. Paper supports contain highly toxic substances hard to dispose and manage, considering that 30 billion receipts are printed every year.

Photo >> Digital payment © Wix

Everything comes from the nature of the material used. The media on which tax and ATM bank receipts are printed is not ordinary paper nor recyclable, Not by chance, we are usually invited to throw it in the undifferentiated collection instead of recycling containers. And why this? The glossy thermal paper of which they are made is covered with dye and a chemical reactive on one side. BISPHENOL A (Bpa), a quite toxic plastic material, is commonly used, increasing the risk of oncological diseases and type 2 diabetes for those who come into prolonged contact. The environment can also suffer harmful impacts.

Thermal paper englobes ink which reacts to heat during the printing phase guaranteeing a long-lasting performance for tax reasons. Therefore, the paper waste cannot be turned into compost because it would contaminate food growing.

Photo >> the infographic explaining the consumer options following the reform: 1. ask for the receipt to be printed 2. ask for a dematerialised payment receipt © CNIL Commission National de l'Information et des Libertés

With a view to combating waste pollution has been debating alternative solutions for a long time. If it is true that technology now allows us to register the tax transaction with paper-free tools, the traceability of economic transactions cannot be diminished considering that commercial operators are obliged to issue receipts to protect consumers. So difficult to think of eliminating from our daily life the system of issuing receipts.

The French Government decided then to move on. What will change in fact from now on? The paper emission of cash, ATM and credit card receipts and other vouchers, promotional or discount devices will be printed by the business owner only at the express request of the consumer or user who must always be informed.

Photo >> Business paper documentation © Wix

The new regulation does not concern some types of receipts that will continue to be released in the business-as-usual mode. Notably: 1. cash receipts relating to the purchase of the so-called "durable" goods when expressly mentioned; 2. household appliances as described in the French Consumer Code Item No. D211-6 (e.g.: computer or telephone equipment); 3. bank card tickets about cancelled or credited transactions; 4.

tickets issued by ATMs, whose archiving is necessary to benefit from a product or service; 5. cash receipts or other invoicing documents printed by non-automatic weighing tools.

Photo >> Smartphone, portable computer device that combines mobile telephone functions and computing functions into one unit © Wix

In any other case, the issue of the receipt will be registered through dematerialised digital solutions ensuring safe registration and information of payment via SMS, email, bank App or QR code, under the regulation of personal data processing. Only where the consumer or user does not give his consent, the display of the transaction amount at the checkout will be the sole evidence.

A possible "revolution" for a good cause that will require much attention especially in the early stages of application. ***

Laws and legislative acts of reference


By Maurice Abbati

Springer International Publishing

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