The Cosmetic Ultralounge

Phone Books – A Waste of Paper?


Studio Brow is about creating a positive and energized experience and one way to conserve energy is by not using more paper than necessary. One such paper based item is the phone book in the age of the internet, smart phone and iPad.

There is a war heating up between the companies that print yellow page phone directories and people who say thousands of those phone books are just thrown away unused.

In 2010, 650,000 tons of phone books were either recycled or threw away in America. Two tons of heavy paper, including phone books, were from Belmont and Jefferson counties and 23 more tons were from Monroe and Guernsey counties.

Nationwide, it cost about $63 million to deal with that much paper. People, like environmental activist Jess Leber, are curious as to why phone books are still being sent in a digital age.

“Many people,” Leber said, “don’t even open these phone books. It’s become sort of like junk mail.”

However, the phone book industry is resisting against efforts that stop them from being delivered.

Ed Kruger, general manager of In Print & Online, said any household that does not want one of the print directories can opt out by calling a number at the front of the book and the directory will not be mailed the following year.

In a statement, Kruger said, “Our directory usage is strong, and brings our advertisers customers to their doors, and gives our constituency the opportunity of choices of where to purchase products and services they want or need. This is good business for any local economy.”

To date, Leber has collected 11,000 signatures calling for a $500 fine against any company that delivers a phone book to a person who does not ask for one.

Rich Brandt, who oversees a 50-person staff at Valley Converting in Toronto, said, “the company chops up old phone books and churns out paperboard product. Unused phone books are free raw material.”

Brandt said if people recycle, “it helps us out. It helps the county out. It helps everybody out.”

The number of people recycling phone books and other items has soared statewide. Valley Converting said it’s handling 500 tons of recycled materials from residents so far in 2011.

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