After The Phone Book

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Oregon Senate Bill 525 – an opt-in system for telephone books in Oregon – 2011

Latest: 3/2/11 – Please Call Senator Beyer @ 503-986-1706 if you think this bill should be heard.  I just spoke with Senator Lee Beyer. He thinks that because a small portion of the population still rely on the phonebook that nothing should be done to change the system.  He also thinks that there is a law that phonebooks must be distributed in Oregon.  I don’t believe that to be true. He also argued that he has not heard from the other committee members that they want to discuss SB 525.

Latest: 2/20/11 – FB Fan Page started. Come visit!

Latest: 2/8/11 Bill is now in the Senate Business, Transportation and Economic
Development Committee

Committee Members (who to write to to encourage that the bill be heard and supported)

  • Lee Beyer (D), Chair – –
    Call Senator Beyer @ 503-986-1706
  • Jason Atkinson (R), Vice-Chair –
  • Ginny Burdick (D) –
  • Chris Edwards (D) –
  • Fred Girod (R) –
  • Bruce Starr (R) –

e-mail addresses of committee members to copy and paste into an email.,,,,,


Background information on the bill – feel free to beg, steal and borrow 🙂

Support SB 525

Opt-in System for Phonebooks in Oregon


The Problem: Telephone books are prevalent in our society at a time when more people are finding contact information online. They have become a headache for homeowners and renters who receive up to 7 books a year in Oregon, and municipalities that collect and recycle the books pay the cost. The environmental impact is no less significant: delivery and collection are accomplished by vehicles, which emit pollution; many locations have no recycling opportunities for these books so they end up in landfills and incinerators; and greenhouse gases are emitted from the production of books not used. For many people, phone books are just plain annoying because they don’t want them but still get them delivered.

Cost to the Environment: Over 500 million telephone books are distributed around the country each year. According to KEX radio, in 2003 there were 6.4 million phone books delivered to 1.3 million homes in Oregon. Ban the Phone Book1, a website dedicated to stopping the waste of phonebooks, estimates that 5 million trees are needed per year to publish the white pages and found that only 22% recycle their phone books.

Cost to cities: Local jurisdictions spend millions of dollars hauling telephone books to landfills and to recycling centers. This cost is born by taxpayers in Oregon. Ban the Phonebook states that taxpayers are spending $17 million each year to have these books recycled (note: this does not include figures for white and yellow pages combined, which is likely much higher).

With more than $3 billion missing from the Oregon state budget,  this measure could bring huge cost savings to struggling towns, cities, and larger government entities responsible for paying for garbage and recycling costs.


The Solution: SB 525 will support a switch to a system which saves taxpayers money, protects our forests, helps improve air quality (less paper made, less driving to distribute books, less idling vehicles), keeps tons of paper products out of our landfills and creates less need for recycling them.

Oregon First! We were the first with the bottle bill – it’s time for us to take the lead again and do what most people agree is needed – move to a system where consumers are able to opt-in and choose whether or not to receive a phone book. A USA Today article2 cited a survey which found that 87% of respondents support an opt-in system, preferring to receive a phone book only when requested.


Endorsed by: Oregon Environmental Council – 9/15/10

Oregon Environmental Council supports an opt-in system for phone books. According to the US EPA, approximately 42% of greenhouse gas emissions originating in the United States are associated with producing and transporting materials. So one of the most effective ways to reduce global warming pollution is to focus on the “reduce” part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” equation. Many people don’t need phone books, especially duplicate information from different companies. Oregonians should be able to opt-in to receiving them.”

Chris Hagerbaumer | Deputy Director
Oregon Environmental Council


2.17.11 From our friends in SF who are moving forward with similar legislation:

David Chiu’s Office has asked YPA and ATT for their opt-out data and model programs or success rates on 3 separate occasions – wanting to give them the chance to prove that their opt out programs are impactful, effective and sincere. Silence.They have never provided anything – much less any evidenced based numbers to show that their program is sincere or effective.

As as I was told:

•    The new YPA opt-out website is V2 of their veiled attempt to hold off legislation – it was launched on the same day SF introduced its legislation, deliberately (they did not deny it was a response to  legislative efforts on the west coast.)
•    The YPA approach is fundamentally flawed in several ways :
•    The YPA site is a closed system with no third party oversight.
•    There is no enforcement or penalty mechanism if it fails to get results and no tracking of results that we can check.
•    Their site is a walled system that is designed to prevent anyone from auditing compliance, tracking the status of their request or protecting the privacy of their personal email address.
•    The site has been designed so that it is impossible for a person to use a unique Gmail address or their Catalog Choice account since the sign up form will not allow you to use the + character in your email address.  This means that people can not create site specific email address, a feature of Gmail, when signing up.
•    We’ve spent the last 5 years of the US Financial Disaster learning the painful lesson that big business can not be trusted to self-regulate when such an effort conflicts with its profit margins. This is such a case.
•    Other successful programs (the do not call registry) have teeth and don’t rely on industry self-regulation. LEGISLATION was the solution and the framework for change.