Yesterday, “06880” reported that Westporters can avoid the coming Yellow Book plague by opting out.
Today, there’s even better news on the driveway littering front.
RTM representatives Liz Milwe, Jeff Wieser and Matthew Mandell have worked for months to make opting out of phone book deliveries easier, more effective — and environmentally friendly.
Spurred by Westporter Morgan Mermagen’s 200-signature petition, the RTM members started work on a town ordinance. The Local Search Association — the national lobbying organization for companies like the Yellow Pages and Frontier — heard about the plan. They — and members of those businesses from around the country — came to Westport, to meet with the 3 RTM members.
But the talks reached an impasse.
So this spring, the RTM reps moved forward with their proposed ordinance.
The companies reached out again. Finally — with the help of assistant town attorney Gail Kelly, and following months of conference calls — a deal was struck.
There will be no ordinance. However, all phone book distributors in Westport have agreed to follow these parameters:
- All plastic bags used during delivery will be made with 20% post-consumer recycled content. This will be noted on the bag.
- A new opt-out notice — showing the website www.YellowPagesOptOut.com — will cover 30% of one side of the bag.
- A letter to the town, announcing a pending distribution by any company, will be done 90 days prior to any event, and 30 days prior to a cut-off for being able to opt out of that (and future) distributions.
- All books will continue to have a notice on the front cover about the opt-out, with the same URL.
- Within 14 days after delivery, the distribution company will return through the route, picking up any unclaimed bags within view.
- A report will be sent to the town each year, noting how many people have opted out.
“These are serious concessions made by companies trying to stay relevant in a changing time,” says Mandell. “Each side used all of its might to sway things, with First Amendment rights waved around more than once. In the end this is a fair solution.”
“The change in the bags is a success for the environment,” adds Milwe. “It will be a greater success if residents opt out and if they tell their friends to opt out. Let’s make it happen!”
The 3 RTM members will now work with the town and local groups to create a campaign to inform all residents about the opt-out.