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.

YPA Releases Sustanability Report

The Yellow Pages Association (YPA) has released the industry’s first Sustainability Report to focus on environmental commitments, impacts and goals of major US industry players.

The report provides an overview of the industry’s sustainability efforts and outlines the organization’s goals for 2010 and beyond.

Of particular note in the report is a graph of what products do make up the waste stream headed to local landfills/incinerators:

The key message is that according to the EPA, when compared with other types of durable goods, telephone directories represent a very small percentage of the municipal waste stream.  Simply put, we’re not the problem that local governments need to be directing their attention to if they are truly looking to reduce their waste expense.

Other successes noted in the report include:

  • Launch of industry consumer choice programs (www.yellowpagesoptout.com) to give consumers a single place to go to reduce or stop directory delivery;
  • Use by some companies of directory paper that contains recycled content and fiber derived from “residual chips,” (by-product after logs are converted to lumber) making it unnecessary to use new trees to produce Yellow Pages;
  • A 29% reduction in the use of directory paper since 2006, as a result of programs to reduce the size of directories, use of more efficient pagination systems and expansion to digital and mobile search products like Internet Yellow Pages sites and apps;
  • Implementation by some most publishers to soy-based inks and non-toxic dyes that pose little threat to soil or groundwater supplies and adhesives in the binding process that are eco-friendly and non-toxic; and
  • Support of recycling and up-cycling programs that ensure directories have a life after use, either as new paper or for other materials like coffee cup trays, egg cartons, cellulose insulation and cereal boxes.

Neg Norton, the President of YPA commented that “We’ve made so much quiet progress since we set environmental guidelines for the industry in 2007 in the areas of resource reduction, manufacturing, and recycling. There’s no better time than now to report to communities and consumers about the actionable steps we’ve taken and to outline where our industry needs to go.”

This report is a much welcomed first step for the industry to demonstrate it is in becoming more transparent and committed to product stewardship and sustainable business practices despite what the naysayers want to believe.

Valley Yellow Pages Continues Tree Planting Program

Posted in Publisher Efforts by Ken C on March 18, 2010
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Next Tuesday, Valley Yellow Pages will be planting 50 new, much needed shade  trees at a Templeton elementary school, with hundreds of students participating in the event.

This is a continuing effort by Valley to demonstrate first hand that they are an environmentally conscious company.  Templeton has been selected as one of several communities around California where Valley Yellow Pages is planting trees.

Of note in the company press release was”

Virgin timber is virtually never used to make directory paper. The books are typically comprised of recycled materials with the remainder of the needed fiber provided by the residue of making squared boards out of round trees in the lumber-making process. 100% of the fiber is certified to come from sustainably managed forests. Directories are also produced with nontoxic glue and printed with inks containing soy and/or vegetable oils.

Kudos to Valley for this effort

Vermont Agrees To Combe Directories Again

Posted in Publisher Efforts by Ken C on March 15, 2010
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In a ruling which may show improvement in the classical disconnect between publishers wanting to update their print products and the local telephone regulatory bodies, the Vermont Public Service Board has reversed its ruling from 2005 that required SuperMedia (the local telco affiliated Yellow Page publisher) to separate the FairPoint Yellow Pages and the FairPoint White Pages directories in Vermont. The directories will be now combined into a single telephone directory beginning with distribution of new books in May.

As Todd Sanislow, regional vice president at SuperMedia noted in its press release (link):

“Consumers have been asking us to switch back for years.  It has long been our position that requiring us to publish separate White Pages and Yellow Pages directories was not the best solution, as it is less environmentally friendly and also put us at an unfair disadvantage with our competition. We are pleased to provide the convenience of having both Yellow Pages and White Pages listings in the same directory once again…..”

Local regulatory groups has traditional fought the elimination of residential white pages believing that if will increase the costs for local subscribers that need to access directory assistance/411 services to get listings information.

Critics of the industry claim that publishers are not being eco-oriented, yet they fail to understand that many of the publishers are required by law to publish the white page books.

We welcome the decision by the Vermont regulators and the efforts by SuperMedia to encourage residents to recycle outdated directories in curbside recycling containers. Those that don’t have curbside recycling, can click here to find a recycling center near them.  Those recycled directories can be used to make new paper or many products such as environmentally friendly cellulose insulation, packing material, animal bedding, compost, tissue-grade products, wallboard, envelopes, hydro-mulch and roll cores.

Colorado lawmakers kill phone book bill

Posted in Print Yellow Pages by Ken C on March 10, 2010
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That’s the exact title from the Aurora Sentinel on March 3rd.  As the article reported:

Colorado lawmakers have killed a bill that would have allowed people to stop getting telephone books delivered for five years.

A House committee rejected the proposal Tuesday after directory publishers argued they’re already stopping delivery for up to three years to people who request it online. While they said they had no incentive to send books to people who don’t want them, unionized publisher employees feared the bill could cost jobs.
Common sense wins out — the publisher have established processes to opt-out of their books, and anything more involved than that will cost jobs and hurt small businesses that want to promote their products and services.  While we all use the Internet to browse and research, the print books are still heavily utilized at the time a local buying decision is made.

Kudos to Valley Yellow Pages on Haitian Relief Efforts

Posted in Publisher Efforts by Ken C on March 10, 2010
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Kudos to Valley Yellow Pages which raised $21,000 to help those in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti earlier this year. The company has also been encouraging other local companies to donate as well.

The Fresno-based company matched dollar for dollar the contributions made by 79 employees who donated through payroll deductions and vacation time pay.

Sieg Fischer, president and CEO of Valley Yellow Pages noted in the company’s press release that:

“This is an easy way that we can help those in desperate need and we challenge other local businesses to do the same.  With other events displacing the Haiti earthquake in the news, it’s important to realize that donations are still greatly needed, and whatever employees are able to give quickly adds up.”

The company indicated that all of the funds were sent directly to the Red Cross and Salvation Army, specifically marked for Haiti relief efforts.

Amarillo, TX Continues Recycling Program

Posted in Uncategorized by Ken C on February 23, 2010

In a program which was started in 1991, the “Keep Amarillo Beautiful” kicked off its annual directory/telephone book recycling program on Monday (link to article).

Twenty-four-hour drop-off locations are provided throughout the town.

We noted in a prior post, that Amarillo has been one of the most proactive efforts on recycling.  In the prior post we noted that:

In 2008, more than 127 tons or 254,000 books were recycled compared with 2007’s 70 tons or 140,000 pounds, according to Keep Amarillo Beautiful.

Great effort in Amarillo!!

YPA: Local Florists Bloom for Valentine’s Day

Posted in Print Yellow Pages by Ken C on February 1, 2010
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From Yellow Pages Association release:

Americans nationwide will turn to the Yellow Pages “Florists” heading this month almost twice as much as average. One in every three users does not have a specific floral shop in mind when referencing the Yellow Pages, but when they do, 85 percent follow up with a purchase (1). Over the course of the year there are more than 103 million references to the “Florists” heading (1).

Nearly half of all references are for flower arrangements or bouquets (46 percent) with the remaining references for flower delivery services (20 percent) and other items like garden plants and memorial flowers (19 percent) (1). The average Cupid spends $74 at the point of purchase (1), and according to the Society of American Florists (SAF), the most common flowers purchased this month are roses.

Also like the suggestions from the Society of American Florists on how to keep those roses fresh:  http://bit.ly/aNJZvu

Napa City Relies on Printed Yellow Pages to Get the Word Out

Posted in Misc Green News by Ken C on January 5, 2010
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When the City of Napa, CA wants to get the word out on how to recycle, how do they do that??  Of course they have a website (link). But they also rely heavily on the printed Yellow Pages which are delivered to every home, even some that get their noses out of joint that they receive them (full story):

Learn more at http://www.NapaRecycling.com or in the phone book yellow pages under “Recycling.”

This way the message reaches everyone, not just the Internet elite.

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