Yellow Pages by the Numbers

Note: The following information was provided to ADP by Catalyst Paper USA. The Association invites the submission of similar sustainability information from any industry stakeholder. Please submit all contributions to

Catalyst Paper USA has a long-standing commitment to sound environmental stewardship. We aim to tread lightly and work cooperatively in our communities. The resources we use, the manufacturing processes we follow, our transportation choices, and how we work with people — everything we do is aimed at efficiently, respectfully, and safely using less and wasting less. It’s with that context in mind that we hold and offer an alternative perspective on the often negative perception of print directories.

Yellow Pages and Paper Recycling

  • A great recycling opportunity. Yellow Pages represents seven million pounds of clean, recyclable fiber to help offset a growing shortfall in the availability of quality recycled paper, whose prices continue to rise across North America.

Hidden Costs of Yellow Pages

  • Recycling is costly for all collected materials but is a key part of a sustainable society that recognizes items at the end of their useful life can contribute to the creation of new products. A “throw away” culture is not in the best interest of a city’s landfill costs. However, targeting specific wastes, like directories, is unfair; all wastes have different marginal collection costs as well as different market prices. Historically, waste paper has been the backbone of a curbside recycling program as it generates a significant income on the sale of waste paper.
  • True cost of directory collection and recycling is difficult to gauge; however, eliminating directories is unlikely to yield much, if any, savings since curbside collection programs will still be maintained. There will be a slight reduction in collected recyclable waste but trucks and crews will maintain the same routes, the same daily mileage, and likely the same schedules. The city will maintain the same sortation centers, and disposal and recycling infrastructure. Actual impact on disk screens in a recycled papermill is caused by many factors; not just directories.

Protecting the Environment

  • No trees are cut down specifically to make Yellow Pages. Rather, paper manufacturers convert the wood chips from the lumber making process into paper that would otherwise go to waste in the processing of round trees into square boards.
  • The carbon footprint of the Catalyst Paper mills making Yellow Pages paper is amongst the lowest in North America with 87% of the energy for our Canadian mills coming from renewable sources like hydro power and biomass fuel.
  • The company’s supply chain is dominated by low carbon, fuel efficient railway delivery and most of the company’s freight suppliers participate in the EPA Smartway program.
  • The environmental impact and carbon footprint of many waste materials collected and recycled is far greater than paper telephone directories. For example, collection and recycle of computers and e-waste is becoming a widespread problem. Miniaturization of microchips with reduced quantities of precious metals has made it cost prohibitive in many cases to handle e-waste locally, forcing the offshore export of wastes to countries like Ghana, Nigeria, China and India. Unlike telephone directories, e-waste is associated with problematic substances such as mercury, lead, fire retardants, and PVC leachates.

Alternatives to Yellow Pages

  • The Internet doesn’t eliminate sustainability worries. The Internet creates a massive, unseen carbon footprint. Based on a 2010 Dell study, the manufacturing carbon footprint of a U.S. laptop is about 330 pounds CO2e. A Valley Yellow Pages directory, for example, produced at a Catalyst Paper mill has a footprint of about 1 pound CO2e. Distribution of the laptop is 110 pounds CO2e while the directory book is about 0.5 pounds CO2e. One year of a laptop’s life has a carbon footprint of about 90 pounds CO2e while a directory has zero usage carbon footprint (and is more effective). Disposal of the laptop creates another 70 pounds of CO2e while the phone book creates 0.5 pounds CO2e.
  • Energy usage in operating U.S. network equipment like servers to support on-line Internet searches is considerable with estimates equivalent to powering almost 6 million homes.

There is no single solution to shared concerns about responsible production, consumption, recovery, and recycling of materials. That’s why Catalyst Paper works continuously with supply chain partners and non-governmental groups to promote wider understanding of the environmental issues affecting the use of paper products, such as telephone directories.

Graham Kissack, P.Eng., MBA
Sustainability Specialist
Catalyst Paper USA