Phone Books

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Phone BookNow that a majority of people have switched to using free online resources to search for local busines and resident directory, telephone books have become obsolete, annoying, and wasteful.

Did you know that:

  • Telephone books generated 650,000 tons of paper waste in 2009. Of that, more than 410,000 tons was discarded in the landfill  (source:  Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2009 Facts and Figures. U.S EPA.)
  • The production and disposal of these phone books generates 3,564,574 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is the equivalent of approximately 770 thousand extra passenger cars on the road every year.
  • In recent years, the number of phone books delivered to households and businesses has increased, with two or more competing companies now publishing and distributing books in similar or overlapping geographic areas.
  • On average, about 40% of the fiber used to produce telephone directories comes from post-consumer recycled material. A substantial number of trees must be harvested every year to produce the newsprint used to produce telephone directories, not to mention the water and energy needed to print and manufacture these books.
  • In recent years, the number of phone books delivered to households and businesses has increased, with two or more competing companies now publishing and distributing books in similar or overlapping geographic areas.
  • There are free and convenient alternatives such as online directory from whitepages.com, and free 411 directory assistance (1800-FREE-411).

In addition, phone books are hard to recycle because they are made with a low grade of paper. End-of-life disposal of these phone books puts a huge financial burden on local governments to recycle or dispose of the phone books, not to mention straining the landfill. Source reduction is the best and most efficient approach to save trees, conserve resources, and reduce cost.

There have been numerous legislations in different states, but none have been passed by the state legislature so far.

What You Can Do:

1) Urge your state legislature to support phone book opt-in programs, which would prohibit any person or entity from distributing “white pages” telephone listing directories to residents, except upon the request of the resident. Currently, only Seattle, WA has a phone book law and San Francisco, CA.

2) Contact your service provider (to opt out). For your convenience, you can call these numbers:

  • AT &T: 1-866-329-7118
  • Verizon: 1800-888-8448
  • Yellow Pages: 1800-373-2324 (option #3)
  • Valley Yellow Pages: 1800-350-8887

3) Recycle your phone books. Most curbside programs accept phone books. If you don't have curbside recycling in your neighborhood, check for the nearest recycling drop-off near you: