San Francisco, which has been noted for its environmental initiatives, has a law in the works that aims to ban distribution of the phone book. GreenBiz reports that David L. Chu, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, plans to introduce the legislation on February 1. This law would ban the distribution of the phone book unless publishers are able to obtain prior consent from individuals and businesses. The passing of this law would make San Francisco the first city in the nation with such a law.
Rachel Gordon, staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, outlines in more detail how the law is expected to work. If the law were to pass, publishers will be barred from delivering phone books without receiving permission ahead of time. The law will be enforced by the Department of Environment and any unsolicited deliveries can result in fines of up to $500 for each violation. While the state mandated White Pages are unaffected, White and Yellow Pages combinations will fall under this law.
Though the law bans unsolicited deliveries, Yellow Pages is still allowed to contact customers through email, direct mailings, phone solicitations, or in person. Consumers also have the option of picking the books up at a distribution center.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Chiu has said that probably over 1.5 million Yellow Pages are distributed each year. These seemingly account for a lot of waste. In fact, the Product Stewardship Institute estimates that the local government spends about $54 million each year to dispose of the books and $9 million to recycle them.
Many are wondering what individuals on the other end think about this legislation. Seattle tried to pass a similar piece of legislation in 2010, but publishers sued them for a violation of free speech. In a recent TreeHugger interview with Neg Norton, president of the Yellow Pages Association, a new, national opt-out Internet site was announced.