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Say No To Phonebooks

31st of March 2010

12000 sign Downing Street e-petition advocating an opt-in system for phonebooks

192.com and environmental charity Global Action Plan's "Say No To Phonebooks" Downing Street e-petition closed on Monday with the fifth largest response ever for an environmental campaign  with 12,114 votes.

The number of votes on the Downing Street website reinforces an independent poll of 1000 UK residents in 2009 which showed that 70% would support an opt-in system for phonebooks.[1]

The campaign urged the government to establish a centralised opt-in system for phonebooks to dramatically reduce the waste caused by the unwanted tomes.

The annual production of phonebooks uses around 62,000 tons of paper; enough electricity to power 59,000 homes for a year; 680,000 barrels of oil (the annual consumption of 67,000 people), and two billion litres of water, enough to fill 800 Olympic swimming pools[2] . For the total process, from production to recycling, 62,000 tons of phonebooks equates to 79,360 metric tonnes of wasted carbon emissions.

According to a Redshift poll of 1000 UK residents, 41% of the survey don't use phonebooks for directory enquiries[1.1] . This suggests that no more than 59% of UK households would request a phonebook given the choice. If this was the case, 46,822 metric tonnes of carbon emissions would be produced, as opposed to the current figure of 79,360 metric tonnes, equivalent to a year's carbon emissions produced by the 8000 residents of the City of London.

Again, if only 59% of UK households opted-in to phonebooks then 401,200 barrels of oil would be used for production, a saving of over 200,000 barrels. Over a hundred million kilowatts of electricity would be spared too, with 59% of householders taking up 146,320,000 kilowatts as opposed to 248,000,000 kilowatts.

In addition, the cost to councils in terms of the management of phonebook waste is estimated at £7,500,000 a year based on representative figures provided by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.[2.1] If just 59% of UK households opted into receiving the phonebook the waste management bill for local councils would be £4,425,000, an annual saving of over three million pounds.

With 70%[2.2] of homes in the UK now having access to the Internet, 192.com's research also revealed that 82%[1.2] of people had used an online directory in the last year. Online directories are updated daily, provide maps, and are more environmentally friendly - 192.com produces an estimated 40 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, compared to the Yell Group's 330,000 tonnes in 2008.

The campaign's independent research also showed that at least 18% of phonebooks end up in landfill. That's over 6000 tonnes a year, an unnecessary trash-pile given that half of these directories are unused. This avalanche of paper also contradicts an EU directive to reduce landfill, and an opt-in system for phonebooks has been identified by the Say No To Phonebooks campaign as a solution to the problem of growing rubbish-dumps.

Global Action Plan CEO, Trewin Restorick, said: "We need to wake up to the fact that new technologies mean we can create less waste by doing more things on-line. There is no need for everybody in the UK to receive a phonebook (let alone three!) and people should be given the choice of whether they receive books or not."

Commenting on the e-petition, Dominic Blackburn, Product Director, 192.com said: "The massive response to the Downing Street e-petition shows that people really want to cut out unnecessary paper and the environmental impact it entails. The government have legislated against junk mail, and we hope this e-petition will focus their minds on the weightiest junk mail of all - the phonebook".

Notes to Editors

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Research conducted by Redshift Research between 5th & 7th September 2009 with a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 1000 interviews with male and female UK panellists.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 See associated Key Facts document for calculations & referencing.

About 192.com

192.com is the UK's most awarded online directory, helping find people, businesses and places for millions of users every month. On 192.com, users can search over 700 million records including free directory enquiries, edited electoral roll information, local business listings, interactive mapping, aerial photography and property reports.

About the Say No To Phonebooks Campaign

"Say No To Phonebooks" calls on the government to establish a centralised opt-in system for phonebooks therefore reducing the environmental impact of producing, delivering and clearing up the waste created by unwanted phonebooks. So far the petition has over 12,000 signatures. For full figures of the environmental impact of the 75 million phonebooks that are delivered annually in the UK please visit www.saynotophonebooks.org.

About Global Action Plan
Global Action Plan is the independent environmental charity that has 15 years experience in environmental behaviour change. The charity works with homeowners and tenants, businesses, schools and the wider community to help reduce their impact on the environment. Global Action Plan's tried-and-tested programmes deliver tangible environmental and social improvements as well as financial benefits www.globalactionplan.org.uk.

For more information contact the 192.com Press Office.