Yellow Pages companies take their responsibility to the environment very seriously, so I’m always interested in what the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) data shows about our industry’s environmental record. Even though the Internet is full of “facts” about the impact of directories, the EPA data over the past few years demonstrates that some of these aren’t quite so factual.
The EPA has recently released its 2010 Municipal Solid Waste report, and there are some changes to the way it measure directories. The data tells a good story about where we are as an industry.
- Directories make up a tiny portion of the municipal solid waste stream: I was encouraged by last year’s EPA report, which found that directories were the smallest contributor of paper and paperboard products to the solid waste stream at 0.3%. This figure was significantly less than other paper categories like newspapers (3.2%). In this year’s report, the EPA has stopped measuring directories altogether and is instead including them with newsprint and other mechanical paper. This signals to me that directories continue to make up a tiny portion of paper in the waste stream.
- Recycling rates are strong: With the proliferation of curbside recycling, more than 71% of the paper used in directories, newspapers and similar products is being recycled. That’s a strong participation rate and I’m pleased to see that so many people are recycling.
As I mentioned, these stats do not lessen our focus on sustainability. We are still working hard in this area.
- Directories are being printed with less paper: Yellow Pages publishers have made substantial reductions in paper usage. In fact, paper suppliers project the industry will use 50% less paper by the end of 2012 than they did in 2007. This decrease has been driven by changes in the size of directories, more efficient manufacturing, an industry-sponsored effort to reduce printed residential white pages, a general decline in the number of directories distributed, and our national consumer choice website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.
- Our national consumer choice program makes it easy to control directory delivery: Consumers nationwide can visit www.YellowPagesOptOut.com to easily manage directory delivery to their homes and businesses. We’re continuing to update our site to make it an even better user experience, and I can tell you that we’re economically motivated to get it right. Delivering a phone book to someone who doesn’t want one is an unnecessary expense to our publishers.
I’m proud of our progress to date and look forward to continuing to expand the reach and visibility of our sustainability and consumer choice programs in 2012. Please take a look at a column I wrote for Triple Pundit, a popular sustainable business website, about our industry’s ongoing efforts.