According to the Yellow Pages Association 615 million phone directories were printed in the U.S. last year. The Yellow Pages Association states that these directories were made with 40% recycled material. Even though recycled materials are used to print the books, for every 400 (5 pound phonebooks) made 17 to 20 trees must be cut down.
This past fall 3 different phonebooks were delivered to our home. No one needs 3 new phonebooks a year. This is a waste of resources! Bill Gates was quoted as stating Yellow Page usage among people below 50 will drop to zero or near zero over the next 5 years. Hes right phonebook usage is declining. People increasingly use the internet to look for numbers and companies rather than looking them up in the phonebook.
Cambridge, Massachusetts has passed a proposal that would allow citizens to opt-out of receiving phonebooks delivered to their door. The following states are also considering this: North Carolina, Minnesota, Maine, New Mexico and New York. We are looking into trying to implement such a plan in our city. Phonebooks are money makers for the companies printing them. The Yellow Book Directory states their revenues at $13.9 billion. They make $22 per copy. This may be a hard sell but well worth a try. If nothing else we are going to facilitate the recycling of these unwanted phonebooks. Research shows that taxpayers and cities end up paying for the unwanted books to be recycled or carted to the landfill.
Portland, Oregon released the following facts regarding the phonebooks distributed to their city. The printing of the books consumed 49,779 trees. The phonebooks if stacked, would be 12 miles high.
Oregon estimates in 2003 that 6.45 million sets of phonebooks were published and distributed. There are only 1.33 million households in the state.
Recycling a 3 pound phonebook prevents 5.9 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. Not printing the book at all prevents 18.1 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Nationally only 20% of phonebooks are recycled. We would like to see that change!