Goodbye Yellow Pages, Hello Local Search


A desert island made from old Yellow Pages directories. Appropriate? Photo by Howard Lake.

Remember the Yellow Pages Association? They represent the folks who print phone books. They've fought some efforts by cities to ban phone book distribution, and are in favor of a national opt-out system, which they launched in February. Now, forget the Yellow Pages Association, because they've changed their name to the Local Search Association. What do we have here? A case of yellow washing?

Old and new logos from the YPA and LSA. Courtesy LSA.

The Yellow Pages, er Local Search Association, has released a 2011 sustainability report, which offers a one hint at the name change (and demonstrates the outrage by some over automatic phone book doorstep deliveries): Directory paper demand decreased an additional 8.1% in 2010, totaling nearly 35% in paper reduction since 2007.

On the flip side, the report notes that the directory recovery rate (recycling) increased to 36.9%, according to the latest EPA data, up from 21.4% in last year's report.

Reps for the newly named Local Search Association point to EPA Facts and Figures that say telephone directories represent just 0.3% of the U.S. solid waste stream, less than newspapers (3.2%) and office paper (2.2%).

On the second flip side, fewer folks also are reading newspapers these days, and printing is barely necessary with all the software and online collaboration tools out there. According to those EPA Facts and Figures (the latest, from 2009):

"Directories were estimated to generate 650,000 tons (0.3 percent of total Municipal Solid Waste) in 2009. These directories are made of groundwood. It was estimated that 240,000 tons of directories were recovered in 2009."

Further, from the same Facts and Figures report:

"Overall, generation of paper and paperboard products in nondurable goods was 33.5 million tons in 2009 ... While newspapers were recovered at the highest rate, other paper products, such as books, magazines, office papers, directories, standard mail, and other commercial printing also were recovered for recycling, and the overall recovery rate for paper in nondurables was 52.1 percent in 2009. Thus 16.1 million tons of paper in nondurables were discarded in 2009.

We can hopefully assume that less paper will be discarded in 2011, with fewer phone books being printed (along with the rise of iPads and other tablet computers and e-readers like the Kindle).

Association reps don't say how many people have signed on (or off, actually) since the February launch of yellowpagesoptout.com. But the association has formed a Sustainability Committee "to continue developing sustainable business practices that make sense for their stakeholders, as well as to establish new benchmarks for the industry."

Why the rebranding? "... to better represent the integration of traditional Yellow Pages with digital, mobile and social media," association reps say.

... the way consumers search for and find local businesses is rapidly evolving. With that, the former Yellow Pages Association evolved its brand to help its members help local businesses succeed in today's fragmented media environment."

Should we give the new Local Search Association a thumbs up? Are they embracing the internet age, trying to adapt, and being responsible? For sure, they keep coming up with more initiatives.

More on Phone Books and Paper
More Phone Directory Foolishness, From Maryland
Phone Book Litter Banned in Seattle, Nation's First Opt-Out City
Ask Pablo: What Is The Impact Of All Those Unwanted Phone Books?
Finally! San Francisco is Considering a Ban on Unsolicited Phonebooks

Tags: Newspapers | Recycling

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