Category Archives: Environmental

Let’s use a 5+ year old picture to promote our online money grab

If you can’t sell it, repackage it, spray some cologne on it, and then go pick on someone who is successfully and try to pick at the scraps they leave behind in your wake.

This continues to be the business strategy of one YellowPagesGoesGreen.org, a business directory website at the forefront of the environmentally-conscious “Green” movement…”.  Seriously?  We have noted their sad attempts in the past at a true business strategy by issuing press release after press release after press release, usually with outlandish or down right lies, made up research, or anything else they can scape together so they can try to get someone to pay attention to them and actually spend some money with them. Their favorite is the picture from 5 + years ago of the overflowing phone book recycling bin.

Their website even goes as far as saying they are the  “…official opt-in registry for printed distribution…”  Really?  Who gave them that title?

Now of course, you can add your small business to their site for “just $49.95/year” for which you get??????  I think in some circles that could be considered bogus yellow pages.

Guys, its 2013.  Find a new picture (if you can), or redo your business model.  Oh, by the way, Monday and Tuesday we got 5 calls from consumers asking for new PRINTED YELLLOW PAGES, in markets of less than 50k in population.  Guess they didn’t get your “press release” that the book is dead….

Unfortunately on the internet, all we have is the spam or trash folder for their stuff…

Advertisements

Judgment Day for City of Seattle Opt-out Folly

Since the start of its October, 2010 efforts to implement a required opt-out program, despite the industry’s already established program, we have criticized the elected leaders of the city of Seattle –

  • November, 2010“ …this really isn’t an environmental move by the City of Seattle. Instead, it has become a clear attempt at cost shift and a political stepping stone for some Council members…”
  • July, 2011: “ …Lost in Seattle: Hello. Print Yellow Pages Aren’t Your Problem..”
  • August, 2011“Seattle Green Efforts Come Up Way Short”
  • October, 2012“..Take that Seattle. In a decision, which has been expected for some time, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released a unanimous decision today which holds that under the First Amendment, Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” and not “commercial speech.” The appeals court determined that print directories are entitled to the same standards under the First Amendment as newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, this is a major win for the industry..”

Despite the obvious stupidity of this effort, the leaders keep on pushing this needless waste of taxpayer funds.  We’ll now The Seattle Times reports that the city has tentatively agreed to pay $500,000 to yellow-pages phone directory publishers in a settlement, rather than continuing the fight to appeal a ruling that the city violated the publishers’ free-speech rights,

Initially, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the city’s position.  But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, generally a very left-leaning court, sided with the yellow-pages publishers, ruling that the phone books are protected, like other publications, by the First Amendment.

The Local Search Association has repeatedly fought that the city opt-out registry wasn’t necessary because the publishers and Association had their own fully functional opt-out systems. But, city leaders lead by City Councilmember Mike O’Brien insisted on forging ahead with an opt-out registry for “unwanted phone books” and charged a $100 fee on each of the three companies that distribute phone books in the city. It also charged the companies for every book delivered, levied a fine of $125 for deliveries to households that had opted out.  And, to add insult to injury, the law required the publishers to advertise the city’s opt-out service on the cover of the yellow pages.

A suit then filed by Local Search Association, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in October that phone directories are protected by the First Amendment and that Seattle’s law regulating distribution of the yellow-pages directories was unconstitutional.

Now judgment day has arrived for the city as they will now need to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to the industry.  City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, still refuses to admit the futility of this effort and said he couldn’t comment on negotiations to settle the lawsuit because they were still ongoing. He said the settlement agreement could also decide “the future of Seattle’s yellow-pages opt-out system.”  Gee, you think so?

As you would expect some of the city’s finest are reacting online.  Here is one of the few blog comments I could print:  “..let’s SUE and FINE Yellow Pages for LITTERING. Shoot them on site for trespassing…”.  So much for the civility these same people preach to us about.

As we noted in October, 2010:

“…What a shame. It didn’t have to be this way. A working process was already up and running. But that wasn’t enough for the greenies. Someone in big business had to be punished no matter the costs or the impact to taxpayers…”

My only question is whether City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and the other 7 elected officials who voted for this effort (only one Councilmember voted against the ordinance) will now be held responsible for reaping the taxpayers.  Somehow, I doubt it.

How to confront a critic of the industry’s environmental efforts

One of the most effective ways I have found to deal with industry critics regarding our environmental position is to simply to engage them in a conversation.  As simple as that concept seems, many are disarmed immediately when you present the simple facts of how the industry has been proactive in the makeup of the materials we use in our print products, the voluntary opt-out programs implemented, and what the real statistics are on the impact of directories to the local waste stream.

Local Search Association President Neg Norton recently demonstrated that on a panel run by the Product Stewardship Institute, a group that has made it their self-appointed duty to confront industries they feel are anti-environment.

Here is the full content of Neg’s response as posted on the Association’s “Insiders” blog.  Good job Neg and the entire LSA team:

 Product Stewardship and the Yellow Pages Industry

Contributed by: Neg Norton

What is the role of government in product stewardship? This question was posed to me as one of five panelists on yesterday’s Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) webinar. Many government officials and recycling professionals listened in, and other panelists included:

According to PSI’s invitation, the purpose of the webinar discussion was to discern, “…whether key [product stewardship] program principles, such as transparency and accountability, are best attained through voluntary, mandatory, or hybrid programs that encompass elements from both approaches.”

During the webinar, I stressed that it is important to not lump all of private industry together when considering how to regulate the environmental impact of products in the marketplace. Government leaders and other key stakeholders should look at what each individual industry is doing and not take a one-size-fits-all approach.

As we know, many states and cities are feeling the budget pinch, and taxpayer money has to be carefully prioritized to protect public health and safety. The bigger the threat, the greater need for government.

Certainly, hazardous products require government oversight in order to protect consumers from injury. As the ACA’s Alison Keane noted, paint is the top household hazardous waste product. That is why the ACA founded “PaintCare,” a non-profit program to manage the reuse, recycling and proposal disposal of unused paint. This industry-support effort is in conjunction with government oversight initiatives that include a per-can assessment fee, convenient paint collection and a management system run by manufacturers.

However, a telephone directory does not present the safety hazards that paint can. And when it comes to the print Yellow Pages, we know that voluntary self-regulation through industry-led efforts works best for consumers, small businesses, and most importantly, taxpayers.

Our industry has been proactive in reducing the carbon footprint of our products and has generated significant results. Last year, we re-launched our successful, industry-funded consumer website, www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. The site, which is provided at no cost to consumers or cities, enables residents and local businesses to choose which directories they receive or stop delivery altogether. The recycling rate for print directories is high and the impact of phone books on the municipal waste stream is miniscule. Moreover, over the past five years, our industry has undergone a 50% reduction of paper use for directory production.

Another factor is whether government and an industry are aligned in their goals. For our industry, we have a common desire with government to reduce the number of unwanted directories. Publishers do not want to incur the cost of printing and delivering a product to a household that does not intend to use it. Local government wants to reduce unwanted directory deliveries but often have competing budgetary demands. So, the industry offers a free solution: a website where consumers can opt-out of phone directory delivery.

Mr. Lifset included in one of his presentation slides that there is, “No sound science to support effectiveness of voluntary approaches to environmental policy,” and that the, “Majority of voluntary schemes collect little or no data… no data, no evidence!” I disagree. For one, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) provides us with credible data on the success of our efforts. Back in 2009, the EPA determined that directories made up three-tenths of one percent of the of discarded paper & paperboard products in the municipal waste stream. Now, however, the EPA has determined that phone directories are such a small part of the municipal waste stream that they no longer see a need to track the product separately.

Mr. Martin noted that Australia had a 77.7% recovery rate for newsprint in 2011. That is very common to the recycling rate for newsprint in the U.S. – which includes telephone directories – of 71.6%. Whether or not the Australian rate includes telephone directories is secondary to the larger point of the commonness and success in paper recycling globally.

While our industry continues to responsibly self-regulate the production, distribution and disposal of our products, we believe that government can play an important role in communicating solutions and options to the public. I shared with the webinar listeners an overview of the collaborative press releases that our industry has issued with state and local lawmakers across the country, several of whom are noted as strong advocates of the environment.

I’m glad that our industry had this opportunity to share our positive story with interested parties on the PSI webinar, and I look forward to continued dialogue.

 

Why apples aren’t oranges

A new press release came out that had this nefarious title:  “2012 Waste Figures Affirm YellowPagesGoesGreen.org Stance Against Yellow Pages Paper Directories”

My first reaction was wow, can’t wait to see these stats.  But when you dive into the press release/article what you find instead is a lecture about recycling paper in general, with absolutely no Yellow Page specific data.

For example:

According to Greenwaste.com, each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 3.5 cubic yards of landfill, 17 thirty foot (pulp) trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, and 4100 kwh of energy.

That’s nice to know, as well as “…DailyGreen.com reports that paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste, and one third of municipal landfill waste; Statspotting.com adds that paper waste accounts for up to 40% of total waste produced in the United States each year, which adds up to 71.6 million tons of paper waste per year in the United States alone…”

But note this is PAPER, not YELLOW PAGES.  It easy to see why they could be lumped together.  They are both fruits, right?  But, they are also different.  Did they just get it wrong then?  Not exactly.  See there is a little hidden motive involved here called money.

Back in July, 2011 we put a spotlight on the “YellowPagesGoesGreen” group and it’s not a pretty picture – simply put they want to rid the world of printed phonebooks so people will be forced to use their online directory product.  A little capitalism is fine, and as many bank robbers have noted on why they rob banks (“…it’s where the money is…”) it’s just that bogus misrepresentations like this are exactly why ADP has kicked of the “Power of Yellow” rally.

As we’ve noted, time and time and time again, the YP industry does not “harvest”, or farm, or cut trees for their paper. They don’t have to. They use all of the residual materials that come from the milling of trees for lumber and all of the PAPER items we do recycle (If you want to find out more go here: http://www.yptalk.com/archive.cfm?ID=322&CatID=3).

And we’re ok with a well-intended group scolding people a little:  “…many people are not pitching in to make the Earth a greener place to live, and the damage that is being done to our environment in the name of endless paper consumption is leaving our future as a race in doubt, unless we band together to do something about it now…”  Just please stop wrapping yourself with the green flag when your real motive is to game some revenue from the print Yellow Pages industry, a product that still gives an ROI of at least $10 for each $1 spent in an ad program, that is used by 75% of population during the year when they truly need a local product or service.

Now that’s the true Power of Yellow.

9th Circuit Strikes Down Seattle Yellow Page Opt-Out Ordinance

Take that Seattle.  In a decision, which has been expected for some time, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released a unanimous decision today which holds that under the First Amendment, Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” and not “commercial speech.”  The appeals court determined that print directories are entitled to the same standards under the First Amendment as newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, this is a major win for the industry.

We noted back in August 2011 that Seattle’s effort to force a city run opt-out program and recycling fees on yellow page publishers was both legally questionable and irresponsible especially since the industry had already initiated an opt-out program and website.  To compound matters, the city then sent out 280,000 post cards (or 4 TONS OF PAPER) to inform residents of this effort, none of which is believed to have been recycled.

The Local Search Association, which has fought a long, hard, expensive battle on behalf of its members is “extremely pleased to announce that a full victory has been achieved by our Industry”, and will now move quickly to bring this appeals court decision to the attention of the San Francisco U.S. District Court (which is also within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit) to vacate their opt-out program.

The Association believes the City of Seattle now has only two options:

  • The  City could seek a rehearing before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court      of Appeals.  However, in cases such as this where there is a unanimous decision, a rehearing is rare.
  • The City of Seattle could seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I think a third option would be for the city to apologize to the industry and all of their tax-paying residents for all of this nonsense and start working with the industry on ways to improve recycling rates.  But that probably won’t happen as several of the city leaders that championed this effort clearly have higher political office in mind.

Congratulations to the Local Search Association staff, and especially, Dex One and SuperMedia for fighting the war that needed to be fought….

 

Print Yellow Pages Aren’t Junk Mail

Back in 2007 (http://www.yptalk.com/archive.cfm?ID=303&CatID=14) I wrote about how the perception that print yellow pages are the root cause of congested landfills and increased government trash waste doesn’t match the reality of what the typical household receives, and then needs to discard (99% of which is not recycled) in the way of junk mail.  To prove my point I compare one year of directories received to just three months of junk mail that arrived.  Over the course of a year, the pile of junk mail will far exceed the pile of print yellow pages.

I am happy to report that some recent tests have yielded similar findings.  Most recently, I received a note from Jeremy Snyder, the General Sales Manager at the Tarheel Pages.  I have cut down some of his analysis to get to the results of the similar test he did:

January 1, 2011 I started collecting every piece of unsolicited junk snail mail that came into my mailbox at my aforementioned house.  I kept a box in the corner of the kitchen and instructed my wife to throw any piece of advertising material into the box.  Any piece of mail that was not a bill, something she had a subscription for, or personal mail was to be thrown in that “junk mail” box.  We have it in our emails to weed out junk in our cyber life, I decided to make one for our physical life.  This is a true to life comparison, and anyone who wants to come and check the actual data is more than welcome, as it still sits in a big box (my wife WOULD NOT let me keep it lying on the floor!) I can’t say I was surprised by the outcome (which I concluded on December 31, 2011), but I was astounded when you compare it to a Phone Book.  I did a side by side comparison to the Phone Books delivered to the RTP Area of North Carolina including Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill’s Phone book.  It’s amazing, and like Judge Korman mentioned, a form of discrimination, to realize that this unsolicited junk mail comes every single day into our mail boxes or post office boxes.  Whether it’s one or two or three pieces a day, you can see just how it adds up over 365 days!! Yet a phone directory that is delivered ONCE every year garners all the negative news about usage (or lack thereof) and wastefulness.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov recently stated,  “The solar system is sooo humongous big, right?! But if you see our solar system and our galaxy on the side, it was so small.”  It’s all about perspective!  I try to get my sales reps to encourage customers to look at the big picture in everything we do.  What we need to ask ourselves, or better yet, what all the naysayers need to ask themselves is, “Do we really think that taking away phone books and destroying thousands of jobs in its wake is, right now, something that is best for what’s happening in our Country (or World)???”

But I’ve come to find out that Jeremy’s fine effort hasn’t been the only test.  Thanks to Bob Tacey, Jr. the Founder/President of Modern Creative Seminars (Tacy Speaks) who also reminded me about a similar finding from Ron Mintle at Yellow Magic.  Ron ran a similar test just a couple of years ago and posted the actual weights of the two different media it on their  company blog (http://www.yellowmagicblog.blogspot.com/).  Here it is:

What I was interested in finding out was what would weigh more, the four Yellow Pages Directories I’ve got in my home, or all the junkmail I collect over the period of 12 months?

I didn’t have to wait very long to find out. Just four months after I’d started with my little experiment, I’ve got some interesting numbers for you. Now of course these may not be valid for everyone, but I couldn’t find anyone else that was crazy enough to have kept their junk mail for four months, which already tells you something…

So, here are the numbers. The junk mail weighed in at 12 pounds & all four of my Yellow Pages Directories together amounted to 9.4 pounds!
It means I collected 3 pounds of junk mail per month. If you do the math & extrapolate, that amounts to 36 pounds of junk mail per year! I’m pretty confident that after a year, those Yellow Pages Directories would still be 9.4 pounds & unlike the junk mail, each of those Yellow Pages are still useful.

Where’s my Yellow Pages? Next to my phone 🙂

So there you have it – three different tests in three different parts of the country and the results are identical.

Note to municipal governmentsPrint yellow pages directories are not your biggest problem in your waste streams.  You can save a heck of a lot more if you would just focus on the main culprits driving up your costs – cardboard, newspapers, and JUNK MAIL.

Let me close with some final words from Jeremy Snyder‘s note, words the industry should embrace:

As many of you in and out of the industry know, we are being inundated with negative perceptions.  These perceptions (and they ARE perceptions) of our extinction have increasingly grown over the last few years.  It makes our jobs harder and harder to convince the small business owner (and mainstream media) that for over 150 years Yellow Pages helped literally millions of small businesses around the world reach the consumer at a point when they are ready to BUY!  In 2008 the Wall Street Journal published an article about the “Extinction of Yellow Pages”. It was full of misstatements of facts, but yet no one ever responded when the Yellow Page Associations tried to contact and defend ourselves.  Now, 3 years later, the blogosphere and online marketing companies (who have a vested interest in YP death) create this “virus” (Irony?).  A virus of the mind which infects the business owners, the general consumer, and even local governments.  Starting in the urban areas that are more technologically savvy and slowly but surely making its way to Small Business America and the everyday consumers.

Folks, isn’t it time to start fighting back on all these misconceptions, lies, and complete mistruths??

Still Lost in Seattle — How NOT to Lower Your Municpal Waste Stream

The Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) anti-phonebook mongers were thumping their chests last week that “…more than 67,000 households and businesses signed up to stop phone books in 2011, and you’ve already stopped nearly 300 tons of paper from being used…”  (Source)

So let’s do the math.  The supposed indisputable source of knowledge on the always-correct Internet – Wikipedia, says that there were 258,499 households in the city of Seattle as of the 2000 census. Note:  this is only the city area, and doesn’t include the surrounding areas that may also receive a print phonebook called “Seattle”.  But let’s just use the Wikipedia number so industry critics can’t claim we stacked the results.  Some quick calculations say that’s assuming a 1-to-1 relationship of books to SPU “households”, that only comes to 26% of households that opted out.  However, that really is a slanted, incorrect calculation as we know many homes may receive more than one book, and businesses are not included in that total household count.  The interesting side bar on this is that industry research indicates that 75% of adults use the print books at least once a year.  The SPU numbers, if believable, support that industry research then.  By a 3 to 1 margin, people still like and use the phonebooks.  And this is the media that has been replaced, no one uses, etc., etc. etc., etc.

But wait, we’re not done yet.  You need to further evaluate the “success” of those 300 tons supposedly saved by what it took to achieve it.  As we noted in an August post, during July yellow post cards (ironic choice of color for the card don’t you think) were sent to 280,000 residence and business addresses by the SPU so that Seattleites who “….don’t have Internet access can select their phone book delivery preferences by mail.”  That little direct mail “spam” effort (where are you now Eddie Kohler) used over 4 TONS OF PAPER  How many of those 280K post cards, or 4 TONS OF PAPER do you think will be recycled??   Wonder why the SPU isn’t reporting on that???

Not only that, now the phonebook police are out for more blood (as in revenue for the city):

Did you receive a yellow pages phone book after opting out? If so, you can file a complaint online through your City of Seattle stop phone books account. If you submitted your opt-out request by phone or mail, call our automated phone line at (206) 504-3066 to submit a complaint. Yellow pages publishers will be held accountable, and even fined, if they fail to honor timely opt-out requests from Seattle residents and businesses.

Wow.  Such a “success”.  That’s’ something to be really proud of Seattle.  Instead, SPU and the elected leadership of the city should be embarrassed.

After all this noise and unfair targeting of the Yellow Pages industry, you’ve made virtually no dent in the one thing that accounts for less than one percent of your overall municipal waste stream.  Perhaps now you can focus on the other 99% that is the real problem.