Yesterday, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced a ban on unsolicited Yellow Pages in San Francisco that would force phone companies to get consumers' permission before dumping the directories on their doorsteps. If you recall, Senator Leland Yee was unsuccessful at passing a similar bill before the state Senate last summer.
Although consumers are able to opt-out of receiving the Yellow Pages, Chiu's office estimates that more than 1.5 million are distributed in San Francisco per year, many of which land in the recycling bin (or worse, the landfill). There have also been more books delivered more frequently in recent years thanks to two or more competing companies distributing in overlapping geographic areas.
The Yellow Pages Association says the ban would be an infringement on their constitutional right to distribute speech, and AT&T's lawyers are probably
letting their fingers do the walking typing up more paperwork as we speak.
If successful, San Francisco would be the first city in the nation to pass such a ban, and other cities will be watching. It's estimated that local governments and consumers spend approximately $54 million a year to dispose of phone books and an additional $9 million to recycle them. Phone books are difficult to recycle since they're made with low grade paper, and are sometimes distributed with materials such as plastics and magnets that become contaminants in the recycling process.
The White Pages will not be affected by the ban.