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For many, gift giving is as much a part of Christmas as any other tradition. This means a considerable rise in the number of purchases of all sorts of items, from clothing and toiletries to electronics and our favourite festive treats. But this increase in spending can come with a downside, particularly when it comes to sustainability. There's one unexpected part of Christmas that may be having one of the biggest impacts on the environment, and it’s paper receipts.
eyosretail has carried out research into just how much carbon is emitted per person on paper receipts from their Christmas shopping alone.
Paper receipts have a significant impact on the environment. Every paper receipt printed emits around 2.5g of carbon during its lifetime - from production and use, to ultimately finding its way to landfill.
According to separate research, the average UK adult buys no less than 32 gifts every year for their friends and family, spending around £420. Christmas presents tend to be purchased in a variety of stores, over different transactions - which means approximately 32 extra receipts are generated per person every Christmas.
Considering the carbon footprint of a single shopping receipt, the additional carbon generated just from the average 32 Christmas present haul is 80g for the average UK adult.
The research found that the carbon footprint of paper receipts during the Christmas period was comparable to that of trains, buses and domestic flights and the production of environmentally-harmful disposable bags.
The 80g carbon footprint generated by Christmas receipts is similar to the amount generated by a single passenger travelling 1km in a large plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (77g). A motorcyclist would generate 84g of carbon travelling the same distance.
When it came to public transport, two passengers travelling 1km on national rail or an intercity train generates carbon of 82g per km, for two passengers. For the same amount of carbon (84g), 14 passengers could travel 1km on the Eurostar. Two passengers could even travel 1km on a domestic flight for 86g of carbon.
The large carbon footprint can be attributed to a number of different things; an estimated 200,000 trees are destroyed solely for the production of paper receipts and they are not recyclable due to the chemicals used in them, which are also found in single-use plastics.
Simon Harris, Sales Director at eyosretail said: "Our research around paper receipts during the Christmas period is not surprising. It's been estimated that over 11.2 billion receipts are printed in the UK annually, which is 30,684,931 receipts per day. The enormous number of receipts being printed all over the world comes at a real cost in terms of CO2. It brings a reported 28,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, the equivalent to 10,000 flights across the world. We would advise consumers to ask for a digital receipt wherever possible when purchasing their Christmas gifts to reduce their individual impact."