Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Yellow Pages are going green, but how about eliminating the wasteful printing in the first place?

Last week on Earth Day, the Yellow Pages Association (YPA) released its first sustainability report. It included updates on their progress including the news that:

"Yellow Pages publishers use directory paper that contains recycled content. In addition to recycled paper pulp, this type of paper contains fiber primarily derived from “residual chips,” a by-product of sawmills left after logs are converted to lumber. That is, the chips become paper pulp instead of going into landfills or being burned. It is not necessary to use new trees to produce Yellow Pages."

This is good news, but my question is: Do we really need to print about 130 million Yellow Pages every year?

Just think about it - how many of you really use these printed directories? I guess the number is shrinking every year, especially when all the information is available online on their website. But at the same time the wasteful practice of delivering everyone new copies every year is still going on. It's true that now you can opt-out if you want to, but doesn't it make more sense to make it an opt-in process instead of opt-out?

It makes perfectly sense from both a consumer and environmental point of view - give the directories just to those people who really want them and who will actually use them. The only one that might not see it as a win-win solution are the Yellow Pages Publishers as a smaller circulation means smaller revenues from ads.

In their sustainability report,
Neg Norton, president of YPA says:

"Yellow Pages print directories remain a key part of our business and a widely used tool to connect buyers and sellers. In fact, in 2009 alone, print Yellow Pages received 12 billion references. As long as consumers continue to use print directories and our clients see value being represented in them, we will continue to offer that service – but we must be committed to doing so responsibly and with high regard for the communities in which we live and work."

I can understand that the directories are valued and used by people, but again, why give so many of them to others who don't need them? and why do it every year? But, Neg (if I may), if you're really committed to do it responsibly, then you should shift to an opt-in process. Otherwise, no matter how hard you would work to improve the current opt-out unsustainable practice, you will fail to meet your commitment to make the yellow pages green.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!