There was a day where the Yellow Pages phone directory had a coveted spot in every home and phone booth. These days, however, a huge number of phone directories go straight from the doorstep to the trashcan.
The Product Stewardship Institute estimates that phone books create 660,000 tons of waste per year and because they’re printed on low-grade paper, recycling isn’t easy. That’s why San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu has proposed a bill to stop the unsolicited drop off of these books. He’s suggesting that instead of an opt-out program, Yellow Pages delivery would be an opt-in program and that’s a big difference.
Neg Norton, president of the Yellow Pages Association told The Wall Street Journal that “Chiu has ‘significantly undervalued the value that Yellow Pages delivers to the city of San Francisco.’ San Francisco Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve Falk agreed saying that the Yellow Pages represent an important marketing tool for small businesses, especially those without a website. Falk is backed by a coalition of local business owners who are speaking out against the proposal.
It’s an odd fight. The SMB’s are responding as if that reduced number of books would reduce the number of people who see their ads, but dropping 10,000 books on doorsteps around the city doesn’t mean 10,000 people are using them.
With Chiu’s proposal people who need a phone book would still get one and the city would get a breather from the tonnage of waste. That’s got to be a win all around.
What do you think? Will Chiu’s proposal actually hurt local small business, or is this an idea that should be put in place all across the US?