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Where and Why to Recycle a Phone Book

written by: Amy Carson•edited by: Tania Cowling•updated: 9/13/2010

If you've got an old phone book, recycle it using these tips, and learn why and where to recycle phone books.

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    Why Recycle Phone Books?

    phonebook 

    Recycle phone books because they can be! Even though the paper they're printed on is low quality, phone books are completely recyclable.

    Think about it: they're huge books, printed by the millions, using 650,000 tons of paper each and every year. Recycling phone books keeps them out of landfills and puts their paper to new uses, and saves water and energy as well as trees. For instance, the city of Mesa, Arizona calculates that recycling nearly 13 million phone books has saved "1.5 million trees, 184 million gallons of water, and more than 108 kilowatt hours of energy."

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    What Are Phone Books Recycled Into?

    The short paper fibers that make up the pages phone books are printed on mean that many recyclers won't accept them. Phone book paper can't be made into new kinds of paper (other than phone book paper, that is) at all. Phone books can even contaminate batches of other paper types, by lowering their recyclability.

    That doesn't mean there aren't many new uses for old phone books, though. Here are some items that phone books get recycled into:

    • new phone books
    • cereal boxes
    • animal bedding
    • mailing envelopes
    • home insulation
    • toilet paper
    • roofing shingles
    • paper towels
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    Where to Recycle Phone Books

    The best advice for how to find out where to recycle your old phone books is to contact your local garbage pickup or recycling service to get information specific to your area. Some areas offer curbside pickup of phone books year-round. Others will do curbside pickup of phone books only at specific times of year, usually during new phone book delivery season. And still other areas only accept phone books at designated collection facilities, either year-round or on special days. If you're very unlucky, your area may not offer phone book recycling at all, in which case you may contact your local waste pickup service to encourage them to do so.

    Some phone book publishers offer recycling programs of their own, such as AT&T partnered with the non-profit Keep America Beautiful to promote recycling its yellow pages phone books. Learn more about this project here or by calling 1-877-88RECYCLE (1-877-887-3292).

    No matter where you live, it's likely your area has some method allowing you to recycle your old phone book. Recycle it along with curbside pickup, at a designated facility, or through Keep America Beautiful's recycling partnership with AT&T. As we've seen, there are several good reasons to do so, not the least of which is saving millions of gallons of water, millions of trees, and loads of energy. Try these suggestions and be sure to recycle your old phone book this year.

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    References

    Keep America Beautiful: Recycle Your Phone Books! http://www.kab.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Phone_Book_Recycling

    Frequent Questions | Paper Recycling | US EPA: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm

    Telephone Book Recycling: http://www.mesaaz.gov/waste/Telephone_Book_Recycling.aspx

    Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/recyclethis/186838960/