“That’s Not a Phone Directory in Your Driveway”

By Corey Lambrecht, November 20, 2012

This morning I picked up from my driveway the latest Dex Directory. Before you think I am about to go on a phone book rant: I’m not. It just so happens that about half of my Earth911 staffers recently toured the GreenFiber plant in Phoenix. Unlike phone directories of years’ past, a Dex directory is an environmentally responsible product – from their own website: “The environmentally responsible journey of a directory begins long before the book arrives on your doorstep. And it continues long after it’s been recycled.”

Dex takes care to direct its phone book customers to easy recycling options. But, like they say, that isn’t even the first step. A directory’s lifecycle starts with the paper source – not a single tree is cut down for the purpose of manufacturing directory-grade paper. At the end of the journey directories become common items like egg cartons and paper cups. Or, as our staff is exploring today, how that phone directory in your driveway, if disposed of properly, can become insulation.

Notice, there are many parts to this success story. The point is not that Dex directories are recyclable. Several businesses saw a need and are working together to create a solution. Dex recognized they had a product stewardship responsibility and wanted to improve their transparency with consumers. As they optimized their manufacturing process to eliminate wasteful or harmful practices, they also sought out partners,like Earth911, who could help take Dex’s own product stewardship plan to the next level. Earth911 is Dex’s partner to communicate local solutions for recycling phone books, through all channels including mobile and web. GreenFiber uses discarded phone books to make a safe and cost-effective insulation product.

Any successful product stewardship endeavor won’t be accomplished in one step. Collaboration, accountability and communication are key factors. Lean on the expertise of others and you will find that even a much-maligned item like a phone directory can be an industry leader.

Corey Lambrecht is Earth911 President.