photo by Wallula Junction
The site also lists a sustainability report, which reads more like a marketing brochure to help mend the tarnished image of wasteful phone books. On one hand it clearly states that LifeCycle Analysis data identified three major issues in book production: water consumption during paper production, energy consumption during printing, and landfill leachate at end of life. The report goes on to point out some of the “greener” attributes of the books, such as the use of soy-based inks, efforts for recycling programs, and the potentials for upcycling. The highlighted statements make it appear that the books are not very harmful, and put a green veil over the issues, since they do not have a strong tie back to the top three impact issue identified in the LCA report.
When previously researching the issues with paper phone books, I learned that managing the system is much more complicated than it would appear. For example, many companies hire contract companies to complete the delivery services, so the information for who has opted out may not get passed on. Also, if you live in a building with multiple units, you have probably seen large piles of books outside. Or you may see books outside a vacant building. This could be caused by a lack of resources on the delivery company’s end – if they don’t know detailed information about each residence the books may be distributed in the same way that takeout menus paper the block.
Another issue is recycling the books. Many municipalities still will not accept phone books along with other recycled paper products, or require special drop off locations.