ROSS CLARK: if you do not receive a paper receipt, stores can collect YOUR data

No fewer than 11.2 billion receipts are used every year in Great Britain according to the Beat the Receipt campaign

No fewer than 11.2 billion receipts are used every year in Great Britain according to the Beat the Receipt campaign

Of all the environmental risks in the world, you might have thought that the receipt of the modest paper was quite low in the list. After all, it is a small piece of paper compared to the mountains of unwanted unwanted e-mail that are crammed through our doors.

In addition, paper lowers easily in the environment – unlike plastic bags, coffee cups and almost any other plastic item in daily use. So even if people carelessly throw away the occasional reception from their pockets, it is certainly not the intention to kill an albatross or to strangle a gannet.

But no. Apparently receipts poison the planet and endanger our health. They are full of toxic chemicals and the 11.2 billion of them that are released every year in Britain are responsible for using more trees than in all London parks.

That says the & # 39; Beat The Receipt & # 39; campaign, which calls on retailers to use electronic receipts.

The campaign is run by a technology company called Flux, which produces an app that allows you to have paperless coupons

The campaign is run by a technology company called Flux, which produces an app that allows you to have paperless coupons

The campaign is run by a technology company called Flux, which produces an app that allows you to have paperless coupons

The technical companies can also start harvesting customer e-mail addresses from the data

The technical companies can also start harvesting customer e-mail addresses from the data

The technical companies can also start harvesting customer e-mail addresses from the data

& # 39; Annually & # 39 ;, it says, & # 39; we print billions of paper receipts for millions of trees, millions of barrels of oil and billions of liters of water. This is completely unnecessary waste. & # 39;

The campaign says it is supported by restaurant chains KFC, Eat and Itsu and has drafted a petition inviting us to lobby the government and retailers to ban paper vouchers and receive electronic receipts on our smartphones instead.

All very valuable, you might think. Well, think again. It wasn't long to see that the Beat The Receipt campaign is not quite what it seems for the first time. It is not really an environmental movement. It is a front for financial technology – or & # 39; fintech & # 39; – industry, which of course has a huge interest in trying to stop issuing paper receipts.

The campaign is led by Flux, a company that develops an app that offers paperless coupons. Industry has made a leap into the environmental society to try to promote its own commercial interests.

But the campaign is not just about making money by selling apps for paperless coupons. It is not difficult to find out why some sellers are happy to support it – they want to collect our e-mail addresses. These are hugely valuable data, which means we can focus on marketing material.

It is not difficult to find out why some sellers are happy to support it - they want to collect our e-mail addresses. These are hugely valuable data, which means we can focus on marketing material, Ross Clark writes

It is not difficult to find out why some sellers are happy to support it - they want to collect our e-mail addresses. These are hugely valuable data, which means we can focus on marketing material, Ross Clark writes

It is not difficult to find out why some sellers are happy to support it – they want to collect our e-mail addresses. These are hugely valuable data, which means we can focus on marketing material, Ross Clark writes

Buy something with cash and receive a paper voucher and a store has no idea who we are. If we want to receive an electronic receipt, we must provide our merchant with our email address or other social media contact details.

Stores are doing their best to get this information away from us – many times in the last year or so I was asked for my email address by a store employee for no reason.

Needless to say, I refuse. But what can we do if we were told that this was the only way to get a receipt, and therefore the only way we could get our money back if the product turned out to be defective?

The fintech industry has already achieved its goal in California, where it carried out a similar "skip the slip" campaign – and where a new law will prevent stores issuing paper receipts unless a customer specifically requests it.

There is every reason why we should receive a paper receipt when we go shopping.

How many of us would wait at the counter to make sure that the receipt we had promised actually landed in an email? And if that were not the case, we would not be able to return defective goods.

It is a shame that such commercial interest is hidden under the guise of environmental claims.

It is clear that there are some real environmental campaigns that have achieved enormous traction with the general public in recent years.

The Mail campaigned against single-use plastics. The items kill a large number of animals

The Mail campaigned against single-use plastics. The items kill a large number of animals

The Mail campaigned against single-use plastics. The items kill a large number of animals

A plastic garfield telephone that was washed up on a beach in Le Conquet, West France this year

A plastic garfield telephone that was washed up on a beach in Le Conquet, West France this year

A plastic garfield telephone that was washed up on a beach in Le Conquet, West France this year

For example, the campaign that the Mail defends for single-use plastics has much justification – discarded plastic kills large numbers of creatures and threatens to pollute the landscape, coast and seas for thousands of years.

But receipts? The claims of Beat The Receipt simply do not stand up. How can you produce 11.2 billion receipts per year & millions of trees, millions of barrels of oil and billions of liters of water & # 39; consume?

Let's just take the & # 39; millions of trees & # 39; 10 million trees would only mean around 1,000 receipts per tree, so it should be fairly slender trees!

There must be more paper in the & # 39; Vote Liberal Democrat & # 39; which I had put through my door yesterday than in all the receipts that I collect in a month – probably longer. In fact, figures from California suggest that revenues make up less than 0.1 percent of all paper produced – an extremely unimportant part.

But the wildest claim of Beat The Receipt is that receipts poison us. The thermal paper on which many of them are printed allegedly contains BPA, a & # 39; substance classified by the EU as toxic to humans and nature & # 39 ;.

But there are toxic materials and there are toxic materials. In fact, in 2015 the European Food Safety Authority reviewed the scientific evidence on BPA – which is also used in a large number of plastics – and concluded that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at the current exposure levels ".

In other words, even the BPA in the plastic packaging around your cheese or in the plastic bottle with fruit juice will do you no harm. It is therefore absurd to claim that consumers are disadvantaged by small amounts in their receipts.

In any case, it is perfectly possible to produce paper receipts without BPA – something that the industry wanted to do by next year.

There is a much greater danger to the environment: the manufacture of smartphones – yes, the devices on which Beat The Receipt wants us to get our receipts.

An analysis by Liverpool John Moores University revealed the environmental damage caused by the extraction of rare earth metals for the manufacture of smartphones.

Many of these materials are obtained from China, where large quantities of toxic waste are a by-product. In addition, the sources of these rare metals – including neodymium and dysprosium – are extremely limited and could become exhausted in the next 20 to 50 years.

In other words, if you no longer want to receive paper coupons because you think they pose a threat to the environment, you would not want to use a smartphone.

The paper receipt is an old part of shopping. It allows us to take back and exchange goods that are found to be defective.

It also comes in handy, as I've discovered on a few occasions, when anti-shoplifting alarms go off wrongly when you walk out of the store. I don't want to be chatting with a smartphone, while some strong security guard accuses me of shoplifting.

Compared to so many other things that we use in everyday life, receipts are also quite harmless from an environmental point of view. Should the companies themselves not present a paper receipt that is not as harmful to the environment as is claimed?

We should not let ourselves be intimidated by giving them up by an industry that is really motivated by its own commercial interests, not by the environment.