Costly directories

Householders across the country are urged to wage a war on needless phone directories as new analysis reveals the £7.5m a year they cost council taxpayers to clear up.

According to the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, collecting and disposing of phone directories from the UK’s 25m households costs council taxpayers an estimated £7.5m a year. Householders who no longer use their directories are being urged to call or email providers such as BT, Yellow Pages and Thomson, to cancel their delivery.

Around 75,000 tonnes of waste is created each year from printed phone directories. If they are not recycled, they end up in landfill where they cost council taxpayers £40 per tonne in tax paid to the government. Even if directories are recycled, councils may pay more to collect and dispose of them than they make from selling the paper for recycling.

Latest figures show that seven out of ten UK households now have the internet, and so have little need for printed phone directories. Council leaders are urging people who no longer use a directory to cancel the three most common directories, BT, Yellow Pages and Thomson, over the phone in five minutes.

The £7.5m spent collecting and disposing of phone directories could pay for 491 teaching assistants or 259 social workers, or it could be spent filling in approximately 108,700 potholes.

Cllr Gary Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board, said:

“Slowly but surely, the printed phone directory has become as outdated as the Betamax video and the typewriter. With the internet and mobile phones, many people will have almost forgotten what a phone directory looks like. Picking up the latest directory from the doormat, removing the wrapper and throwing it straight in the recycling has become an annual ritual.

“Council taxpayers’ money could be spent on better things than picking up phone directories, many of which are never even used. Cutting down on the number of pointless phone directories could save millions and allow councils to spend more on vital services like care for the elderly.

“Of course, for some people phone directories are still important, but where people no longer need them, they can make a quick, free phone call or send an email and cancel the delivery.”

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