Phone Books

Now 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:

  • The annual generation of telephone directories in California totals about 105,000 tons (an extrapolation for CA using US EPA 2008 figures.
  • On average, about 25% of the fiber used to produce telephone directories comes from post-consumer recycled material. A substantial number of trees (in excess 1.2 million) must be harvested every year to produce the newsprint used to produce California telephone directories. 
  • 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, 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.  San Francisco is the only city in California that has an opt-in ordinance.  Recently, California Public Utilities Commission approved Verizon's request to stop distributing White Pages in California. 

What You Can Do:

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

2) 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: 

Back to Issues