2012 Sustainability Report Shows 50% Directory Paper Source Reduction

Contributed by: Amy Healy

LSA recently released our industry’s third annual sustainability report – “Thrive in Perpetuity” – which evaluates the local search industry’s performance against social, economic, environment and cultural impacts. The report focuses the industry’s efforts to reduce paper usage, progress on the industry’s consumer choice program, and the lifecycle of print and online local search options.

A key finding from the report is a projection by the Pulp and Paper Products Council that source reductions will drive a 50% reduction in paper use for print directories by the end of 2012 compared to 2007. The report notes that this reduction is being driven by changes in directory sizing, more efficient manufacturing, an industry effort to reduce printed residential white pages, and our national consumer choice website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.

The report also includes results of a lifecycle study which found that directories use fewer raw materials than electronic search devices and consume less energy overall. Manufacturers reported that nearly 60% of the power used to make paper comes from renewable sources, while electronic device makers and the data centers and services that power electronic search often rely on non-renewable fossil fuels. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the recycling rate of electronic devices is 25%, while the paper category that includes phone directories is nearly three times as high (71%).

Other highlights from our 2012 report include:

Directories can now be recycled in more than 9,000 curbside recycling programs around the country. In fact, according to the Paper Industry Association, 87% of all Americans have access to a local recycling program.

Previous EPA data found that directories represented 0.3% of the solid waste stream (compared to 3.2% for newspapers and 2.2% for office paper). In 2011, the EPA stopped measuring directories separately and included them with newsprint and other mechanical paper, signaling that directories continue to make up a tiny portion of paper in the waste stream.
Our national consumer choice program at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com continues to provide consumers with the ability to limit the number of directories they receive, or stop delivery entirely. This year, the Association created an opt-out widget for state, local and environmental agencies to feature on their websites to increase awareness of the program. Today, agencies in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois and Texas promote the site through their own channels.

Moving forward, our industry remains committed to offering sustainable local search offerings that help consumers search for nearby businesses however they choose. I look forward to our raising the bar even higher in the coming year.