Yellow Pages Sues Seattle For Phone Book Opt-Out Ordinance


----------- Sponsored Links -----------
----------- Sponsored Links -----------

This has all the makings of a story straight out of The Onion but sadly it’s for real. Seattle, Washington recently passed an ordinance that allowed residents to “opt-out” of receiving the Yellow Pages at their homes, something I wish would happen in every city and state in the country. Dex Media West, SuperMedia LLC and the Yellow Pages Association say that the ruling violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and it will hurt them where it counts – their wallet. The ordinance went into affect in October, but with this lawsuit pending it looks like it’s going to be a while before it can be enforced.

I have written about how much I dislike getting phone books before, including discussions of just how much waste these unwanted phone books generate. Each year, phone books require the destruction of about 19 million trees a year, 7.2 million barrels of oil, 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and the generation of 268,000 cubic yards of solid waste that ends up in landfills — not including the waste of the unwanted books themselves. There is absolutely no reason that paper phone books should be automatically delivered to every household in America when I would venture that the majority of us just walk them straight back to the recycling bin. It should be an opt-in system only, period. You want a phone book? You have to ask for it. Done and done.

In Seattle, the city spends $350,000 of tax revenue just to recycle the unwanted books. That seems like an incredible waste of resources for something that most people don’t even want anymore.

Photo by Flickr user monkeyatlarge

----------- Sponsored Links -----------
----------- Sponsored Links -----------


  1. So should we or shouldn’t we be allowed to opt out of receiving this antiquated book that no one really needs? I mean, since you are here representing the YP.

  2. Have you ever tried the opt-out websites? They don’t work, period. The books keep coming, because a truck of them rolls down the street and the workers throw them at your house.

    As for the stats, you need to take that up with the author of the article they were referenced from, and they seem to have have support for their numbers.

    I get electric bills almost less often than I get new phonebooks. Such a waste… and then I have to pay my city to recycle them.

  3. Perhaps you should start with some fact checks — While the popular myth is that this industry is responsible for the neutering of forests, the reality is the Yellow Pages industry doesn”™t knock down any trees for its paper!!! Let me repeat that ”“ they don”™t need to cut any trees for their paper supply.

    Currently, on average, most publishers are using about 40% recycled material (from the newspapers and magazines you are recycling curbside), and the other 60% comes from wood chips and waste products of the lumber industry. If you take a round tree and make square or rectangular lumber from it, you get plenty of chips and other waste. Those by-products make up the other 60% of the raw material needed. Note that these waste products created in lumber milling would normally end up in landfills.

    For more information go here:

  4. if you want to opt out, the industry association and each publisher has websites that will let you do that, gladly. That’s why the Seattle effort is dumb.

    My comment was to correct you stats on waste. If you really wanted to make a true green impact you should be focused on e-waste which is about 10X the volume (and cost) in a typical municipal waste stream, or even newspapers which are about 8x more than directories.

  5. Here’s a radical idea…

    How about letting people opt-IN to receive a Yellow Pages?

    Let’s see just how many people REALLY WANT this media choice from pre-Internet days.

    I wouldn’t mind getting a Yellow Pages every 1 to 5 years, but getting a 5 pound book of phone numbers several times a year that I might open twice a decade is ridiculous.

  6. How does it benefit your business to force people to take your product if they don’t want it? If they aren’t going to look at it and have negative feelings towards you because you give them something they don’t want and hold them responsible for disposing of it, what benefit is there to you or your advertisers? And, wouldn’t it cut your printing costs? Or is it that you need the distribution numbers to artificially inflate your advertising rates. I think that’s it. If you only delivered to people who wanted your books you distribution numbers would go way down and advertisers would likely be unwilling to pay the rates you are charging them as their per contact price goes up.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *