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French shops to end automatic printing of paper receipts

In a bid to cut down on waste, French consumers will instead be encouraged to receive electronic versions of their till receipts

The change is part of a range of anti-waste initiatives Pic: ADragan / Shutterstock

From April 1, paper receipts will no longer be automatically printed in shops, as France ramps up its efforts to reduce waste.

The change will affect sales receipts, tickets for using a bank card, vending machine receipts, as well as vouchers and promotional receipts.

Consumers will instead be invited to retrieve e-receipts, via text, email or apps on their smartphones.

Physical receipts will still come as default in certain circumstances, however, such as for the purchase of expensive appliances or as proof when a bank card fails. You can still ask for a physical receipt if you want one.

Read also: French supermarkets can show-off their record on cutting food waste

Part of a plan to tackle waste

The change comes as one of a number of reforms related to the anti-waste and circular economy law (known as the loi Agec) passed in 2020.

The change was originally scheduled for January 1, 2023, but was pushed back to April to allow retailers to adapt to the new rules.

Around 30 billion receipts are printed each year in France according to eco start-up Greenticket, requiring 2.5 million trees to be cut down, and the use of 950 million litres of water.

Some supermarkets, such as Carrefour, ended automatic paper receipts in 2021. Meanwhile, Super U claimed to save 40,000 kilometres of receipt roll thanks to making the switch.

Read more: Four everyday eco-friendly changes launching in France this year

Some exceptions to the law will remain

Some circumstances where paper receipts are still automatically printed will remain, however.

This includes expensive items such as household appliances, sports equipment, cameras and other electronic products.

Receipts will also be automatically printed 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 that are purchased via weighing them.

It will still be possible to ask the cashier for a receipt or to print one out if you are using a self-service machine. 

If you ask for one, a physical receipt must be given.

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