Phoning It In

Seattle seeks to reduce waste with easy phone book delivery opt-out program.

The Seattle City Council has voted to create an opt-out program allowing residents and businesses to decline phone book deliveries. The ordinance also requires Yellow Pages publishers to begin paying for the recycling of unwanted and outdated Yellow Pages directories beginning next year.

The new law creates an opt-out registry that Seattle residents and businesses can access on the web, by phone or by mail and requires Yellow Pages publishers to pay the costs of operating the registry, for which the city expects to hire a contractor. The legislation also sets penalties for Yellow Pages publishers who continue to deliver books in violation of the requests.

“Seattleites are constantly looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment, and the council has heard from an overwhelming number of people who don’t want phone books,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Seattle Public Utilities & Neighborhoods committee and is the prime sponsor of the legislation, in a statement. “Creating a one-stop shop managed by a third party will help reduce clutter, increase residential security, and, save Seattle Public Utilities customers, the people of Seattle, money. This is a win-win for Seattle.”

Based on information supplied by some of the Yellow Pages publishers, Seattle Public Utilities estimates nearly 2 million Yellow Pages phone books are dropped off in Seattle every year, costing approximately $350,000 to recycle.

The registry is expected to be ready for use no later than July 1, 2011, and publishers will begin reimbursing the city’s Solid Waste Fund for all 2011 deliveries.