How to Recycle Old Phone Books

Old phone books consist mainly of paper that is accepted by nearly all recycling facilities.

By Maryruth Belsey-Priebe

Fact checked by Sander Tamm

How to Recycle Old Phone Books
Recycling Old Phone Books / Ecolife / Sander Tamm

An Overview On Recycling Old Phone Books

In the digital age, phone books as a source of information have largely gone the way of cassettes, 8-tracks, and floppy disks. With the rise of digital devices, phone books have become almost completely obsolete. As such, people are left with heaps of paper in their homes, office buildings, and elsewhere.

In this article, find how you can take the necessary steps to recycle old phone books in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

Stop using physical phone books

With phone books, we have a service where the most environmentally-conscious thing to do is to stop using the service altogether. If, for some reason, you still have the possibility of ordering a phone book in your country and are in the habit of doing so, consider going digital. The internet will have more relevant, up-to-date information. And of course, using the world wide web is also more environment-friendly.

  • Call the service provider directly if they still send annual phone books and ask them to not send you a phone book this year and every year after. Numbers for this purpose are often found in the front of your phone book and online.
  • Search for phone numbers online using one of the many free Internet-based services, such as YellowPages.comSuperPagesGoogle, or

How phone book recycling works

Though many believe that phone books are not recyclable, this is simply not true! In the past, phone book spines were considered non-recyclable. Nowadays, most establishments dealing with recycling have machines and processes in place to handle entire phone books with ease.

  • Phone books that are recycled are used to make other new products, such as roofing materials, paper grocery bags, paper towels, insulation materials, organic lawn care products, packing materials, and more.

How to recycle old phone books

When you’ve got the need to recycle a phone book or two, follow these steps:

  • Clean it up: When getting your phone books ready for recycling, be sure to remove any contaminants such as magnets and plastics that were often included with phone books.
  • Curbside recycling: Most curbside recycling programs now accept phone books with mixed paper waste for recycling. Just check with your local recycling program to see whether it’s possible to include your phone book with your newspapers, printer paper, and cardboard.
  • Drop-off recycling: If you’re without a curbside recycling program but do have drop-off recycling centers for regular recyclables, ask the personnel there if you can bring your phone books with the rest of your paper waste.
  • Compost: When all else fails, you can shred your phone book and include it in your compost heap to turn it back into material used for growing new trees! Just remember that plastic used in old phone books is commonly non-biodegradable. As such, be sure to remove it before composting.