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Phone Books Heading Right for Recycling/Landfill? (UPDATED)

December 3, 2007 Environment 18 Comments

It is nearly 2008, does anyone still use the phone book?


Last month I received two bags of new phone books at my old address. And so our big phone book doesn’t get lonely in the plastic bag it now has a little companion.


Then the other day a ton of new phone books were delivered to our loft building. They delivered, you guessed it, more phone books than we have units in the building. Many residents don’t even have a land line — most of us just use our cell.

This past weekend I was with a friend dropping off recycling in Soulard and a woman asked us if we knew where a phone book recycling place was — she had the new books in bag ready for recycling.

What a waste.

In my old place I have a stack of books from the last several years awaiting recycling. The phone book recycling spots, when you can find one, usually states they don’t take the current year. I see a lot of resources being expenses for something most of us don’t want. Like junk mail and the free newspaper, this is litter in my estimation. Litter that I’m now responsible to deal with. Next year this thing needs to be something people can request, not something forced upon us. Recycling locations here.

UPDATE 12/4/2007 @ 8:30am:

I admit it, I fell for it. The recycling link above is for Yellowbook — not AT&T’s Yellow Pages. How many companies get to use that same symbol of fingers thumbing through a book? The phone books being passed out now are from AT&T.

This past April you may recall the excitement about not losing the Yellow Pages HQ to another city, such as Atlanta. Yes, AT&T’s Yellow Pages division is based right here in St. Louis with 655 downtown jobs.

So, wanting to be correct about it, I decided to use yellowpages.com to find a recycling center to get rid of these just delivered books. You will love this, the city in which the division is based doesn’t have a recycling partner!!!


Amazing, you can’t recycle the phone book in the town where the phone book company is based!  I can think of one good place to dump all these phone books — the big open (and mostly wasted) plaza in front of AT&T’s main building downtown.  They dump these things in our yards all the time.  My condo association now has a big stack of these things that we will have to collectively pay to remove.

People will just pitch them, adding to our municipal disposal costs and filling up shrinking landfill space.  AT&T needs to understand that we don’t really care how much advertising they sold and what sort of promises they made to these advertisers.  Make deals with grocery stores to leave stacks in their lobby’s or some place where those who want a new phone book can pick one up.


Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. Matt says:

    The paper recycling dumpsters at school accept them as well. Those have the added benefit of a small portion of the proceeds going to the school.

  2. Bridgett says:

    That’s where I dumped my FOUR BAGS, Matt, delivered over the course of three days. I live in an obvious one-family dwelling. And I had 8 phone books delivered to my house. Asinine.

  3. andrew says:

    my city curbside service takes ’em.

  4. Janet says:

    I have wondered if anybody uses them for awhile now. I guess as long as they can make a profit selling ads, they’ll keep making them. I really wish I could opt-out though.

  5. Chris says:

    I don’t mind the real Yellow Pages (it comes in handy occasionally) but the McLeod or Sprint or whatever other useless ones I could do without. I actually called McCleod and asked to be removed and they said sure. So far, so good. So maybe you can opt out?

  6. matthew says:

    Hey, repurpose those things. Make something creative (coffee table legs?). Shred them for packing material. Rip the pages out and use them for cleaning things (especially glass, mirrors).

  7. MK says:

    Another good use for them – stack them up against your friends’ front doors, so they cannot get out in the morning – you’ll need about 20-30. (this happened to me quite a few times in high school).
    But in all seriousness, I think there should be an opt-out. I purchase ads for the yellow pages for my company (they are not cheap!)and the usage stats are pretty high compared to what most would think – so I don’t think they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. The only place they go in my house is straight to the bottom of my cabinet until I take them to be recycled (at the local school).

  8. diane says:

    According to the manager of the St. Louis area’s recycling separation plant in Earth City, any type of paper product which can be torn can be recycled. So phone books can be booted into any recycling dumpster or curbside bin.

    About the only thing that can’t be recycled these days are number 6 plastics and styrofoam.

  9. recycle says:

    The recycling center at I-44/Kingshighway has a separate bin for phone books. Now if anyone could figure out how to opt out of the Southside Journal . . . .

  10. I have been recyling them as soon as I get them for years now. Just a chore I should not have to do. However, now I live in a condo and don’t have to actually pick one up. They get stacked next to the gate and that is where most of them remain until they become soggy with rain. Then eventually maintenance gets rid of them.

    This won’t work for yellow pages, but here is a website to get rid of other catalogs.

  11. Scott O. says:

    bring them to my work. we get paid $80 a ton for recyclable paper, which is almost all paper. Or like other posters said, you can probably recycle them anywhere. Just stick them in someone’s blue bin on pick-up day.

  12. Scott O. says:

    Oh, and aren’t phone books, newspapers and some cardboard currently the destination for most of the paper we recycle? Its hard, and potentially environmentally harmful, to turn most recycled paper back into white “virgin” style sheets. Without newspapers and phonebooks, where will our recycled paper go?

    [SLP — Using recycled material to print phone books, roughly 40% per AT&T, is good but when we turn around and immediately take the book to be recycled that sorta defeats the purpose.  Why spend the energy producing the book?]

  13. Joe Frank says:

    I still use the phone book occasionally, although more often the White Pages than the Yellow Pages.

    If you’re looking for a company to do business with, the Yellow Pages ads are generally not as helpful as referrals, in my experience. And sometimes I do get stuck with referring to the useless Yellow Book, if that’s all I can find.

    We just got rid of a Yellow Pages from three years ago, so maybe I’m just not as efficient as the rest of you folks.

    Come to think of it, I hang onto junk mail for months if not years too, which drives my wife completely crazy.

  14. 63101 says:

    Re-use them.

    It looks like you have enough sitting there that you can glue them together and turn them into an arty looking couch or chair.

  15. a.torch says:

    If I didn’t fear loose pages blowing about downtotwn, I say we pick a day and dump them all in front of AT&T’s doorstep. Maybe an elected offical can urge ATT and others to give an Opt-OUT clause. No more phone books. If you want one, you can go downtown and pick one up!
    p.s.- The day after I got my phonebooks I got a canned survey from them asking: did I get my books? were they in good condition? were they left by the right-edge of the outer door? do I want some more?
    ……….HELL NO, no more!

  16. Scooterjo says:

    I don’t know the environmental impact of mass producing the Yellow and White Pages on a CD Rom, but for the last several years, I’ve wondered why this isn’t done.

    A friend of mine takes the last year’s white pages and keeps it in her car. I don’t know what she does with the one being replaced. I’m sure she finds some way to recycle it.

    When I moved recently I took all of the phone books I had and put them in a school recycling bin in Ladue (it was on my way to work). I hope the stuff there is truly recycled.

  17. Anthony Yader says:

    Consumers can “opt out” of receiving telephone books at http://www.YellowPagesGoesGreen.org. This organization will contact the publishers and inform them to stop delivering books. This is a free service for consumers. http://www.YellowPagesGoesGreen.org is working with state and local governments on ordinances concerning the delivery of unsolicited telephone books. If we need a book we will call. Otherwise I “opt out” from receiving it.

    Here are phone numbers of the publishers if you would like to call them instead: None of the menu options includes “opting-out”. Follow the roadmap and you should get to a customer service representative who can help you.

    — ATT/ Yellow Pages: 1-800-479-2977
    — Verizon: 800-555-4833, press 4, then 5, then 2
    — DEX: 1-877-243-8339, press 2
    — Yellow Book: 1-800-929-3556, press 2

  18. nick says:

    and you can also opt out of your free local newspapers. http://www.stopmylocalpaper.org


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