Time to refuse those unwanted, unrecycled phone books?


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Just 30% of Americans use white pages phone books to look up telephone numbers and addresses. Even fewer Americans (22%) recycle them, according to a study released Wednesday.

‘If so few people use the phone book and recycle the phone book, we have an issue on our hands. That begs the question: What can we do about it?’ said Alex Algard, chief executive of, an online people and business search service that conducted the survey with the market research firm, Harris Interactive.


‘One simple remedy here is to make the white pages phone book available only on an opt-in basis,’ Algard said.

White pages phone books have been around as long as the telephone -- since 1887, according to Algard. About 70% of U.S. states require telephone companies to make and distribute phone books to their landline customers.

Burdened by the cost obligations, telecarriers such as AT&T and Verizon have been working with regulators in recent years to stop the automatic delivery of residential white pages. Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are among the states that have granted Verizon permission to stop automatic delivery. AT&T has had similar success in certain counties in Georgia, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Eighty-seven percent of Americans favor an opt-in program for printed white pages, according to the survey. About 5 million trees are pulped and printed into white pages each year. And 165,000 tons of those phone books are put in landfills each year.

-- Susan Carpenter