“I’ve just received another Yellow Pages directory through my letterbox and it is now in the recycling bin. It upsets me to have to keep dealing with all the waste paper that comes through my door – even though I have a sticker on the letterbox that reads: “no unsolicited or junk mail”.
“This prompted me to send a comment to Yellow Pages on their website below, although I guess they won’t respond. I thought I’d also search on-line to see if there was anything else I could do to stop waste being pushed through my door.”
Paul’s letter to Yellow Pages:
Hi Yellow Pages,
I have just received your directory through the letterbox, even though my letterbox has a sticker reading: “no unsolicited mail”.
I use your services on-line, but it upsets me to keep receiving your directories through the door – I feel it is a waste of paper and a huge drain on the environment.
Unfortunately the directory is now in the recycling bin. I am also frustrated that it has now become my problem to depose of the directory.
Can you advise what else I can do to stop the Yellow Pages directory being delivered to my house and what Yellow Pages are doing to help reduce its impact on the environment?
Can anyone advise Paul how to stop reciving Yellow Pages junk mail?
The Yell Group have confirmed that their UK Environment and Sustainability Manager has been recently made redundant.
A spokesperson for Yell confirmed the restructure when questioned by the ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ campaign team, but maintained the Yell Groups’ commitment to the environment. The responsibilities of the role will now be assumed by the existing Corporate Social Responsibility Manager and the Corporate Social Responsibly Project Manager.
The restructure came to light when a member of the public, Mark Thomas, asked Yell if he could speak to their Environment and Sustainability Manager but was told by Yell’s Customer Service team that he was no longer at the Company. Mr Thomas was keen to speak to Yell with regards to the unwanted Yellow Pages he has been returning to the Company.
Say No To Phonebooks have calculated that seventy five million phonebooks are produced in the UK each year – enough to cover Hyde Park twice. The annual production of these directories alone uses enough electricity to power 59,000 homes for a year and unleashes 79,360 metric tonnes of carbon emissions. Since 41% of households no longer use paper directories, almost half the natural resources wasted in the production and recycling of unwanted phonebooks could be saved each year.
What happens when you try to deliver unwanted directories back to Yellow Pages headquarters:
“It’s is a fire hazard that you’re creating here”, said the Yellow Pages Montreal spokeswoman. You couldn’t make it up!
Meanwhile, two directory publishers sued Seattle because they didn’t want to let residents decide if they wanted to receive business phone directories (read the full story). Surely if the directory providers had setup and publicised a centralised opt-in system earlier, the public wouldn’t have felt the overwhelming need to setup one themselves.
Acknowledging the inefficiency and environmental cost of mass-produced phone books, US regulators are granting permission for telecoms companies to stop mass producing residential white pages.
Below are edited extracts from a November 11 AP dispatch written by reporters Michel Felberbaum, Samantha Gross and Peter Svensson:
In the past month , New York, Florida and Pennsylvania approved Verizon Communications Inc.’s request to stop distributing residential white pages.
New York-based Verizon’s plan is to seek regulatory approval in all 12 states where it operates land line telephone service. In total, the savings could top 17,000 tons of paper annually throughout Verizon’s service areas, the company said.
Regulators in New York approved Verizon’s request Oct. 14. There, the company estimates it will save about 3,575 tons of paper per year and conserve the energy associated with printing, binding and distributing the directories. The company’s August request with Virginia regulators is estimated to save about 1,640 tons of paper annually.
Since 2007, states that have granted permission to stop printing residential listings or that have requests pending include: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Telephone companies argue that most consumers now use the internet rather than a phonebook to look up a residential number, in particular mobile numbers.
“You probably have a better chance of finding a name quicker if you can just search for it in a database than try to look it up in the white pages,” said Link Hoewing, Verizon’s vice president of Internet and technology policy.
Read the full article here: http://tinyurl.com/26cybdw
The development encourages the UK to keep up with the times, to follow Denmark, the Netherlands and the USA in adopting an opt-in system for phonebooks.
We want the UK Government to pursue environmental best practice with a centralised opt-in system for phonebooks, synchronising the supply of paper directories with demand.
According to environmentals in Australia, “Telephone books are obsolete in the digital age and should be available only to people who request them”. Read the full article >>
They want the number of directories printed – more than 22.5 million in 2009-10 (52,000 tonnes of paper) – to be cut dramatically, saying many households do not want them.
The Telstra business that makes the directories, Sensis, said a website making it easier for people to opt out of getting the books should be ready next month. The current opt-out system has been criticised as too difficult to use and therefore opt-out rates are low. The same can be said for the UK, only here we have at least 3 different publishers that need to be contacted. When will an centralised opt-out system be available here?
The Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has gone further and called for an opt-in system instead saying, ”There is increasing community concern about the waste of producing and delivering telephone directories to all households, given so many people use directories online.”
Could we see London’s Lord Mayor calling for something similar?
Downing St have responded to our e-petition calling for an opt-in system for phonebooks. Over 12,000 signed it, one of the largest ever for a petition of its kind. You can read the full response here.
We’re pleased the Government acknowledged that an opt-in system would “help reduce the burden on resources and the environmental impact.” However No.10 also said there are no Government regulations relating to our proposal, suggesting we take our argument to Ofcom. That’s exactly what we’ll do, but we won’t stop pressuring the Government to cut back on phonebook-waste and the burden of clearing up unwanted phone books on cash-stricken councils. While we welcome Downing Street’s sentiment we now want action, and watch this space as the Say No To Phonebooks Campaign gathers pace.
On the day that the Local Government Association (LGA) kicks off its annual conference, with cost cutting in this ‘age of austerity’ no doubt one of the highest priorities, news comes from the US that Seattle City Council is weighing up its options to address ‘wasteful phone book distribution’.
From implementing a centralised opt-out facility to charging directory publishers a fee for every book it distributes, this City Council has identified that the cost of recycling the directories shouldn’t necessarily be their burden to carry.
It seems now, more than ever, the LGA should put the onus on publishers to ensure directories are only delivered to those people that actually want them. It saves council funds & saves the environment. What are they waiting for?
Americans are rebelling against the totally unnecessary waste created by phonebooks, so why aren’t we??? We might not see mountains of directories like the one below in the UK but you do see them piling up at the entrance to flats and strewn down streets.
The directory publishers in the UK argue that people can opt-out if they want to by contacting each directory publisher individually, however independent research proves that only 30% of people are actually aware of this. It strikes me that we’re going to have to try a little bit harder if we’re going to reduce the UK’s waste problem – not to mention this unnecessary use of council funds when the government is looking to shave whatever it can.
Today BT became the second major directory in the UK to announce it will reduce the size of its phonebooks. Another victory for the ‘Say No To Phonebooks’ campaign? Of course! But there is more to this announcement.
The article goes on to explain that 6 million people in the UK don’t have access to the internet. Is that who we’re producing 75 million phonebooks a year for?
Alongside producing this shiny new format, that will fit through letter boxes and only serve to infuriate people who have expressly requested not to receive junk mail even more, couldn’t BT invest to communicating it’s opt-out facility (which independent research shows is only known about by 30% of people – compared to almost 60% for the MPS). Given that both BT & Yell have reduced the size of its directories this year to ’save paper’ and that 70% of Brits would support an opt-out for phonebooks, shouldn’t we just take the next logical step and setup a centralised opt-in system for phonebooks? Come on, do the environmental a real favour!
In the meantime, if you wish to opt-out of the phonebook,
For BT call 0800 833400 then press option 5 then option 1