Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Communities Tackling Unwanted Phone Books, Junk Mail

The Town of Brookline and the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts have joined a national waste reduction movement allowing residents to opt out of receiving unwanted mail and phone books via their municipal websites. Owing to a collaboration between the Boston-based Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), which initiated the project, and Catalog Choice, which developed and operates the opt-out registry, Brookline and Cambridge residents can stop delivery of unwanted phone books, catalogs, coupons, and credit card solicitations.

Residents can reach the registry directly at: https://cambridge.catalogchoice.org for Cambridge and https://brookline.catalogchoice.org for Brookline.

This two-community effort is part of a U.S. campaign aimed at slashing wasteful uses of paper, packaging, and other natural resources; reducing product impacts; saving taxpayer dollars; and honoring consumer choice. In October 2010, the City of Seattle passed the nation's first law requiring that telephone directory publishers provide residents with a phone books opt-out option. Last month the City of San Francisco passed an ordinance limiting phone book distribution to residents requesting delivery.

Each year, Americans receive more than 100 billion pieces of unsolicited mail while municipalities foot the bill for waste collection and recycling or disposal. More than 650,000 tons of phone books alone are delivered annually to households across the United States and a large percentage goes unused. While a third of all phone books are recycled, 410,000 tons still find their way to landfills or incinerators, costing local municipalities about $60 million in management costs.

"The unnecessary production, transport, and recycling or disposal of paper emits greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, which contributes to climate change," said Jesse Mermell, Brookline Selectman and Co-Chair of the Town's Climate Action Committee. "Reducing paper waste will not only lower greenhouse gas emissions but will also cut waste and pollution, in line with Brookline's commitment to reduce our community's carbon footprint."

"This new opt-out website is easy to use and a great service for our residents," said Lisa Peterson, Cambridge's Commissioner of Public Works. "With a few simple clicks on the site, each Cambridge resident has the opportunity to lower their impact on the environment."

"By taking tangible steps to reduce paper waste, save taxpayer money, and provide their residents with a meaningful choice, Brookline and Cambridge have become national leaders in the move toward zero waste," said Scott Cassel, PSI's Executive Director. "The Catalog Choice registry provides residents and municipal officials with the transparency needed to ensure that opt-out action is creating the desired environmental results."

"Brookline and Cambridge are taking a great step toward meeting their waste goals while setting a positive precedent for consumer choice and privacy," said Chuck Teller, Executive Director of Catalog Choice. "Our job is to make it easy for citizens to choose the mail and phone books they receive. This initiative is the most effective way for companies and communities to be more efficient, cut waste, and stop unwanted mail and phone books at the source."

To take further action on unwanted phone books, view this 30-second video:http://www.youtube.com/user/ProductSteward. For more information on unwanted phone books, please visit: http://productstewardship.us/PBAction.


kenc said...

If the phone books are so "unwanted", I have less than 10% of households in Seattle opt out?

If these products are so useless, why have the unique call tracking numbers in some of the print ads seen increase in calls?

Chuck said...

Kenc - your facts are wrong - over 25% of Seattle households have made a choice about their phonebooks and the service has only been live for 3 months. Thousands more opt-out every day.

No one said the products are useless. What the service is about is letting those people who want to stop getting the phone book have an easy way to do it.... and then track the compliance of the phone book distributors.

I guess the increase in calls is from those who use the phone book.