Phonebooks: What to do about unwanted or wanted hardcopies?
Tired of receiving 2 to 3 deliveries of the heavy and clunky Yellow Pages every year that you either trash or recycle?
The question of whether or not to phase out phone books and resort to a system where people don't receive delivery by default, making it necessary for those who want a hard copy of the yellow pages to actually order them, has become a contentious issue.
The printed telephone directory industry has had to deal with environmentally conscious consumers who point out that the production, distribution, recycling or not recycling of unwanted phone books carries a high environmental cost, while proponents point out that no matter how archaic in this age of digital and online resources, a hard copy trumps online references for reliability (hard copy will always be there, won't ever run out of batteries, won't succumb to power failures, won't ever fail to get reception on a hand-held device) and access (there are people who cannot afford hand-held mobile electronic devices or own a computer of any kind and they need the hard copy YP).
The city of Seattle has joined other cities and states to consider legislation regarding telephone directories, specifically yellow pages. It announced about 3 weeks ago that Seattle is considering an ordinance which would limit phone book distribution.
The City is considering two approaches: The first would take an opt-out approach through a nonprofit called CatalogChoice, a service allowing residents to sign up and opt-out of direct mail and unwanted phone book delivery.
The second would charge directory publishers for phone books that end up in recycle bins, passing the financial burden of unwanted phone books to the manufacturers rather than the City.
Why are phone books targeted as eco-unfriendly relics? Seattle Council member Mike O’Brien, an outspoken proponent of the waste reduction effort, says that between 5 and 13 pounds of phone books are delivered per resident every year; this translates to an additional 1,300 tons of waste at a cost of $190,000 per year to the City.Continued on the next page