Green? Is There Anything Green About Phone Books?


You bet there is!


There is a staggering amount of misleading and downright false information about Yellow Pages, much of which is initiated by the Yellow Pages’ competitors and is then perpetuated by other media. So, as you sift through the information, be sure to consider all of the facts.


The Truth About Yellow Pages


The Claim: Nobody uses the Yellow Pages.


The Truth: They are used, and are used a lot!


Yellow Pages play a critical role in the economic success of local businesses and provide consumers the information they need, when they need it. It’s the low-tech originial search engine. No batteries required!


According to the most recent study by Burke, Inc:


  • 75% of people refer to the Yellow Pages every year.
  • 54% of people refer to the Yellow Pages every month.
  • 37% of people refer to the Yellow Pages every week.


Nearly 4 out of every 10 people use the Yellow Pages weekly. In the past year, there were 12 billion references to the printed Yellow Pages in the United States.


Yellow Pages are used by consumers when they are ready to buy a product or service from local businesses.


The Claim: Yellow Pages are hard to recycle and end up in the solid waste stream.


The Truth: They are easy to recycle and are not a significant part of the sold waste stream.


Phone books are 100% recyclable.


  • Inks used are 100% soy or vegetable oil-based and are biodegradable.
  • Glues used are non-toxic.
  • Phone books are recycled into many products such as new phone books, newsprint, insulation, acoustical ceiling tiles, drywall paper, and other paper products.


The Process of recycling an outdated phone book counldn’t be easier. It’s as easy as placing it in a blue recycling can for curbside pick-up along with other recycling materials.


Generally, recycling centers gladly accept phone books and have no problem processing them further for recycling. Recycled Yellow Pages are then sold to other companies and turned into other products. And Most people do recycle them. In fact, according to the EPA, DIRECTORIES comprise only 0.3% of the municipal solid waste stream, compared with 3.2% for Newspapers, 1.9% for Standard Mail, and 2.2% for High Grade Office Paper such as used in both commercial and residential printers.


The Claim: Five million trees are cut down to make telephone directory paper.


The Truth: Trees are NOT cut down to make telephone directory paper.


Trees are harvested for making lumber. Phone book paper is only made from recycled fiber and the waste wood chips generated from converting a round tree into square lumber.


The claim that 5 million trees are cut down to make phone books is FALSE!


  • It is important to remember here that trees are an infinitely renewable resource. That cannot be said about the resources used to create electronic equipment.
  • Four million trees are planted daily in the United States. That’s five trees each year for every man, woman and child in America.
  • There are 12 million more acres of United States forestland today than 20 years ago.


The Claim: The Internet is an environmentally-friendly alternative to phone books.


The Truth: The carbon footprint of electronics is significantly greater than paper.


The Internet is often referred to by opponents of the Yellow Pages as the alternative to the printed Yellow Pages. While the Internet provides a strong complement to the printed Yellow Pages, it should not be free of scutiny regarding its carbon footprint. Lets take a look…


  • E-waste represents about 25% of all waste in the U.S. Landfills and 70% of toxic waste found there Ð Directories represent only 0.3%.
  • Only 14% of a computer’s components and materials can be recycled Ð Phone books are 100% recyclable.
  • Electronic waste in the U.S. amounts to three million tons and only 18% of that is recycled. – 57% of all paper consumed in 2008 was recycled.
  • Web server data centers supporting the Internet are using energy at an alarming 24% annual growth rate Ð U.S. Paper and pulp industry has achieved a 42% reduction in energy use per product unit during the last 25 years.
  • About 62 trillion spam emails are sent every year. It takes energy to generate, screen and delete spam, contributing greenhouse gases equivalent to two billion gallons of gasoline. – That’s enough gas to power 8 million hybrid vehicles @ 40 mpg 10,000 miles per year.
  • Americans throw out more than 130,000 computers and 350,000 cell phones everyday. – The Yellow Pages are delivered once a year and are 100% recyclable.


The Claim: Phone books are no longer needed in the 21st century.


The Truth: Yes, of course, they are needed!


In the United States, businesses invest about $13 billion annually in Yellow Pages advertising that generates a significant return on investment. Think about it. Would local business owners spend this kind of money if it didn’t produce the desired results? …and do so year after year, for over 100 years?


Food for thought. Why is it that environmentalists and legislators seem to be attacking the publishing of phone books? It is discriminatory and unfair.


If phone books become no longer useful, let them die of natural causes, without any help from legislators. Let the free market work.