The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency breaks down how your taxpayer dollars are being spent cleaning up the yellow pages industry’s mess (annually)
Generation and management
The MPCA estimates that 13,000 tons of phone books were distributed in Minnesota in 2006; nearly 13 pounds per household (based on 2005 population estimates).
* Recycling. Telephone directories are generally collected through local government recycling programs, primarily curbside. The U.S. EPA estimates a national recycling rate of 18 percent. Minnesota’s 2006 recycling rate for directories was estimated at just 11 percent, down from 35 percent in 2003. For 2006, directory publishers reported that 111 tons of phone directories were recycled. Through the SCORE report, Minnesota counties reported 1,462 tons of phone directories were recycled in 2006.
* Waste. Based on 2006 estimates for recycling, 11,538 tons of phone books were discarded as municipal solid waste in Minnesota. A 2007 waste composition study at the waste-to energy-facility in Hennepin County found that telephone books constituted 3.8 percent of the waste delivered to the facility.
* Cost. Despite the statute enacted in 1992, telephone directories remain a problem for waste managers. A recent national study by the Product Stewardship Institute estimated that it costs $50-75/tons to recycle, and $75-100 per ton to manage telephone directories as garbage. Eureka Recycling (Minneapolis) reports spending about $32,500 annually to recycle 650 tons of directories from the east Metro area, including St. Paul.
Here’s a quick calculation:
1,500 tons at $62.50 per ton to recycle: $93,750
11,538 tons at $87.50 per ton to deal with thrown away books: $1,006,250
Total cost (per year): $1,100,000
Minnesota Population: 4,919,479
Cost of dealing with Yellowpages: 20.5 cents per Minnesotan per year.
This, of course, doesn’t account for the time Minnesotans spend disposing of the books that arrive at their home (hopefully in their recycling). If one in three Minnesotans spend 2 minutes per year dealing with phone book disposals (and values their time at $15/hr on average), Minnesotans are wasting around $800,000 per year in time.