Can You Recycle Phone Books? (Yes, Here’s How)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

These days, many people are becoming more conscious regarding our planet and the things we need to do to keep it clean. You can do your part in many simple ways, starting with recycling. 

Furthermore, one often-used item that some may not dispose of properly is phone books. So, what is the proper way to dispose of them? Can you recycle phone books? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Phone Books?

Phone books are constructed of 100% paper materials, qualifying them to be allowed in recycling bins and facilities all around the U.S. Furthermore, not only is it okay to recycle phone books, but it is also highly encouraged. This is because the more they are recycled, the less waste ends up in landfills. 

Continue reading to find out where to recycle phone books, why you should recycle them, and what else can be done with them if you’re feeling so inclined!

How Do You Recycle Phone Books?

Recycling old phone books is a simple process and doesn’t require much effort, therefore, doing your part is easier than ever.

Here are three ways to get rid of your phone books without adding them to the local dump.

Set Them Out For The Recycling Trucks

Most places these days have dedicated bins for recycling that get picked up weekly or bi-weekly. 

Furthermore,  phone books are okay to place in recycling bins as long as they do not have any type of contamination on them. 

However, make sure to remove the magnets that usually come stuck to the cover and anything else you may have placed in them such as paper clips.

Take Them To A Public Recycling Bin

Some people may run into the issue that your neighborhood doesn’t accept home recycling.

If your area does not offer personal recycling for the home, you can take your old phone books to a community bin, usually located in the parking lots of churches, schools, etc. 

Just like above, make sure these books are free from any type of non-recyclable materials.

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Contact A Recycling Agency

There are a few agencies dedicated to keeping the earth clean and safe. 

Therefore, if you need a place to take your old phone books you can contact one of these agencies and they will let you know what you can do with them in your specific location:

  • Keep America Beautiful – Type in your zip code to learn how to recycle your outdated phone book, or call 877-887-3292
  • Project ReDirectory – Call 1-800-953-4400 for a bin near you

By doing a simple Google search, you can find other options that may be helpful in your area.

What Materials Are Phone Books Made From?

So, you know that phone books are recyclable, but what materials are they made from?

Furthermore, these are all created from paper products and do not need to be torn apart or shredded before recycling.

Therefore, phone books are 100% recyclable from the spine of the book to all of its many pages. 

However, as mentioned above, there are magnets and other things that may be on your phone book that are not recyclable, so be sure to remove these before any drop-off.

Do You Have To Remove The Binding Before Recycling?

Do You Have To Remove The Binding Before Recycling?

You do not have to remove the binding from your phone book before recycling it; as the entire phone book is totally safe for recycling including that part. 

This is because it is made from paper materials just like the pages.

Just be sure to remove the plastic wrapping from the book before you put it in the bin.

Are Phone Books Biodegradable?

Since phone books are made up of 100% paper material, they are biodegradable. 

Furthermore, you can biodegrade your old phone books in a compost pile by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Remove the top and bottom hard cover of the phone book
  • Step 2: Shred each page of the book up into small sections
  • Step 3: Add them to your compost as dry pages if your compost pile is wet, or wet them down and mix them in if your pile is too dry.
  • Step 4: Now, mix the compost up mixing the pages into the soil
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Make sure to mix your compost pile up often and continue to tear the paper up as you go.

Why Should You Use Phone Books In A Compost Pile?

Although newspapers are the go-to choice for many, phone books will work just as good. 

Paper products are used in composting piles because, as they start to deteriorate, they produce carbon that helps speed up the compost process. 

10 Ways To Reuse And Upcycle Phone Books

If you are feeling crafty and creative you can always use your old phone books to create a work of art or re-purpose them and give them another job. 

Therefore, here is a list of 10 fun ways to upcycle phone books:

  • Line your dresser drawers or cabinet floors with the pages
  • Use them to make paper mache art
  • Practice making origami with the pages
  • Practice making paper airplanes
  • Create a book sculpture
  • Create a carving into the pages of the phone book
  • Use the pages to make paper fans
  • Use the pages to wash your windows and mirrors for a streak-free shine
  • Make starter pots for all of your favorite seeds
  • You can use them as yoga blocks

These are only a fraction of the options available to upcycle your phone books. 

Additionally, if you’d like more ideas Pinterest is a great place to find other ways to have fun creating crafts and other useful projects.

However, if you are not interested in using these books for arts and crafts, consider donating them to schools or churches. 

Why Choose To Recycle Phone Books Rather Than Toss Them Into The Trash?

Do you understand why it is so important to recycle, even things as simple as phone books?

Let’s take a look at some very interesting facts regarding the benefits that come from recycling your phone book rather than tossing it in the garbage:

  • Save on paper and landfill space – It is estimated that if everyone in the US would recycle their phone books we would save on average 650,000 tons of paper and up to two million yards of landfill space.
  • Save on Water – You can save roughly 7,000 gallons of water for every 500 phone books recycled.
  • Save the Trees – With every 500 phone books recycled, between 17 and 30 trees will be saved.
  • Save on electricity – 4,100 kilowatts of electricity is saved for every 500 phone books recycled.
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Furthermore, when you decide to recycle your phone books you are choosing to do your part in saving the earth.

Can You Request To Stop Receiving Phone Books?

You can request to stop receiving phone books simply by logging on to the yellow pages website, creating an account, and choosing to opt-out of the subscription. 

However, if you only want it at certain times of the year you can customize your delivery to receive the phone book when you want it. 

Furthermore, by requesting to stop receiving phone books you don’t plan on ever using, you are saving trees, fuel, delivery costs, etc. This is a great way to go green efficiently and effectively.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle cellophane, whether you can recycle blister packs and pill boxes, and whether you can recycle Altoid tins.


Recycling your phone books is an easy and quick way to make a big difference for our planet as it keeps extra waste from going to landfills.

Furthermore, if you do not want to recycle them you can upcycle them into something else. For example, you can use these large books for an array of activities, projects, and crafts then toss them into the recycling bin when you are done.


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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