Proponents of digital coupons extol their many benefits – they’re more convenient, more secure, more personalized.

But one store is putting a unique spin on the digitization of its offers. You should use digital coupons, it says, to help save trees.

The Carrefour grocery chain in Spain has announced a new “paper free” strategy, which encourages shoppers to give up paper coupons in favor of digital offers, and forego paper receipts for e-receipts.

Shoppers who use the store’s app can click a “no paper” option, then they’ll immediately stop receiving paper store coupons in favor of digital ones delivered via the app. They’ll also start receiving digital receipts instead of printed ones.

Carrefour estimates the effort will eventually reduce its use of paper by 70%.


So how many trees will that save? And how many trees does it take to produce all of the paper coupons that we use anyway?

Several years ago, the digital savings site SavingStar put out a report that said the production of paper grocery coupons requires the use of 13.62 million trees each year. Considering only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of billions of coupons printed are actually used, the vast majority are recycled, or simply thrown away. “Never-used paper coupons and store circulars can fill 20 train car loads each week,” SavingStar said.

As for receipts, an oft-cited statistic attributed to the digital receipt company allEtronic claims that up to ten million trees are felled each year in the United States alone, just to print out receipts that usually get tossed into the trash as soon as you get home.

And then there’s a store like CVS, which prints coupons on its receipts. The drug store chain seemingly wiped out an entire forest each time it printed a receipt for the purchase of a pack of gum – at least until it finally began offering digital receipts last year.

So in Carrefour’s case, the efforts of one store, in one country, may not have a huge environmental impact. But when it comes to getting us to embrace digital with one arm, while hugging trees with the other – it’s a start.

Image source: Carrefour

One Comment

  1. ….and we do know that trees are a renewable resource, right?
    ….and we do know that it only takes about one month for paper to decompose, right?

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