Yellow Pages Environmental Forum


CA Legislation Is Unnecessary

It’s a law makers superficial solution to everything — pass another bill that sounds good when you look at the title.  But when you dig into it, that’s when you see that if makes no sense at all.

Sen. Yee a California state legislator who represents a heavily urban part of San Francisco which of course has a supposed hip digitally-savvy population has been trying to score political points with the handful of people who believe the print Yellow Pages are no longer needed.  Yee’s bill, Senate Bill 920, was introduced in February and after the second reading and some amendments, has made it to an Appropriations Committee.

But don’t assume that his efforts represent the majority of his district’s true feelings.  As noted in a recent Daily Democrat article:

“Don’t they have something better to do?” asked Betty Rushton, who has lived in Vacaville for 20 years. “We’re going to hell in a handbasket, and they’re worried about this?”

Rushton and her pals agreed that the thick tomes are integral to their lives.

“I still use my phone book all the time,” said Kate Winkle, also a 20-year resident. “I don’t have the Internet.”

Despite the potential to impact jobs and further loss of tax revenues, YPA said it best in a recent blog when they noted a strong list of reasons why they think the bill is bad for Californians:

  • We already offer opt-out programs in California.  Anyone who would like to reduce or stop directory delivery can visit www.yellowpagesoptout.com to start that process.  The state’s government does not need to spend its very limited resources on creating new programs when they already exist.
  • Regulation puts our industry – and our advertisers – at a disadvantage.  We are part of the larger advertising industry that caters to small businesses, which includes radio, newspapers, and the Internet.  It is anticompetitive and unfair to legislate one form of advertising but not others.
  • The proposed legislation includes very specific language that regulates how information is displayed on our very own products.  Directory publishers have made phenomenal progress over the last year in making opt-out information more prominent and easily accessible in the directory and on covers.  But the directory cover remains a coveted place for advertisers and community groups, and the state government should not diminish the opportunities for them to secure space there.
  • Once someone opts out, how long should that address be on our do-not-deliver lists?  This bill says forever, and we disagree with that.  Given the turnover in real estate, we think it’s appropriate for a publisher to have an opportunity to re-deliver to an address after a certain number of years.  The opportunity for new residents to opt-out will always be available.
  • Yellow Pages publishers employ thousands of Californians and contribute significant taxes to the state budget.  Any legislation that puts that in jeopardy through unnecessary and anticompetitive regulation is bad for California.

Yee and other local legislators won’t admit (or may not even know) that research continues to show that the books are still heavily used.  Even in a highly fragmented media market with many options, the usage of print directories across many demographics is still high, especially in the rural and suburban markets, with older consumers (note to businesses — these are the people with the higher disposable income), for use in those ongoing life events, and in many emergency situations.

I want to assume that Mr. Yee’s intentions are good and aren’t just a ply to win more political points. And who doesn’t want to look for ways to help consumers and protect the environment. But the industry has already taken steps FOR SOME TIME NOW to be more eco-oriented.  This is another unneeded bill with real impacts that will cost the state, kill jobs, and impact many small businesses, at a time when none of those groups can afford it.

Kill this bill!!!

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UK Recylcing Efforts Reach 10 Year Mark

While those that are opposed to any print Yellow Pages will insist the industry has been a later comer to eco-oriented business practices, an announcement today from the UK is just another illustration of why the exact opposite is true.

Paper and cardboard reprocessor Smurfit Kappa Recycling is proudly celebrating 10 years of recycling Yellow Pages directories into new packaging materials.  The company was one of the first UK companies to accept the telephone directories for recycling, a practice which had been going on even earlier in the US) and it is now reprocessing more than ever.

Environment manager Adam Billiald of the UK Yellow Pages publisher Yell (parent of the US based Yellow Book) noted in the press release that:

“…As a business committed to sustainability, it is important that residents can recycle their old Yellow Pages directories easily. For many years, the directories have been recycled into new products such as insulation materials, animal bedding, cardboard packaging and newsprint, proving that the Yellow Pages directory really is green….”

Congrats to Smurfit Kappa and Yell for achieving this milestone.