State Rep. Billy Cunningham (D-Chicago) introduced legislation based on his personal experience. “I was coming home from work and I literally tripped in my driveway over a phone book that was under about four inches of snow. And I reached down and picked it up and walked it right to my recycling bin and threw it out because I haven’t looked up a phone number in a phone book for at least five or six years, if not longer,” he said.
The industry told Cunningham it can solve the problem –which is both an environmental concern as far as the waste generated and a nuisance for residents who get phone books they don’t want dumped in their yards – without a new law, offering customers the website www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.
Customers can go to the site, enter ther ZIP Code, and select the publications available in their area that they either want or don’t want. In some rural areas where directories are delivered by the Postal Service, customers may not be able to opt out.
Neg Norton, president of the New Jersey-based Local Search Association, a trade group for yellow pages publishers, says the publishers and their advertising clients aren’t interested in being delivered to homes where they’re not wanted, so they’re fine with the opt-out directory, but he says surveys show a high percentage of adults still use printed yellow pages directories for services such as lawyers, car mechanics and plumbers.
The organization fought a city ordinance in Seattle last year that set up a city-run opt-out registry.
Cunningham says he’s pleased with the industry’s effort in Illinois, but he’ll be back with legislation if the yellow pages publishers don’t comply.
Illinois has about 350 yellow pages titles put out by 140 publishers. Many are niche publications for ethnic communities, but the hefty area-wide yellow pages still goes out.