Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Unwanted phone directories 50 times as high as Everest! (Feb08)

I don’t use phone directories any more – I always look up numbers on the internet. But I’ve still got a pile of these weighty tomes in the corner of my office, collecting dust and doing nothing useful.

I’ve now discovered that 50 million telephone directories are distributed each year and 17.5 million of these are unwanted (Don’t know if that includes mine – how do they know I don’t want them?) If these were stacked up they’d be 50 times the height of Everest.

These statistics were publicised by www.welovelocal.com/directories who want to encourage more people to use their service. You can search for local businesses and if you’re lucky read reviews of their services. BT and Yellow pages also offer internet directory enquiries.

But I didn’t find BT very helpful on the subject of recycling. They have an automated question service called ‘Ask Emma’. The virtual Emma was completely ignorant about recycling phone directories – she didn’t understand the question. And she was equally ill-informed about how to opt-out of getting directories delivered in the first place. BT have now told me that there are two ways to tell them you want to be excluded from phone directory delivery – by emailing them at directory.products@bt.com or by calling 0800 833 400 and choosing option 5, if you want to do battle with their automated answering machines. You’ll need to contact Yellow Pages and Thompson’s directories separately.

If, like me, you’ve got a pile to get rid of, you might like to check with your local authority about the best way of recycling them. In Somerset (www.recyclesomerset.info ) I’ve found that I can put the directories in with my newspapers – yellow pages are often used for animal bedding and the other directories are recycled with the other paper.


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