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When less is still more

24th of May 2010

World Cup winner teams-up with the people-finding website, 192.com

The "compact" new phone book announced by BT yesterday, has been billed as an eco-friendly alternative to the brick-like tomes dumped on millions of doorsteps every year.

BT's purported saving of 2200 tons of paper is a minuscule amount compared to the 62,000[1] tons of paper used in the production of phone books every year by the three main suppliers, BT, Yell and Thomson.

The biggest problem is waste, when the supply of phone books dramatically outstrips demand. Many households do not want phonebooks and certainly do not need three to be delivered.

BT say that the phone book benefits the 12 million people who don't have access to the internet, especially older people, and of course this is a very important consideration. But what about the other 49 million people in the UK with access to the internet and who therefore may not have any use for phonebooks? Independent research conducted by Redshift shows that 41% of households simply don't use phonebooks for directory enquiries anymore and that 70% would support an opt-in system for their delivery. [2]

While it is possible to opt-out of receiving each individual directory, One Poll research conducted in April of this year shows that only 30% of people are aware that there is a way to opt-out. Compare this to almost 60% awareness of the Mail Preference Service - the best way to reduce unwanted junk mail. [3]

192.com's campaign "Say No To Phonebooks" was launched last year, calling for an opt-in system for phone books and drew over 12,000 signatures on a Downing Street e- petition. This was the fifth most popular environmental petition ever to feature on Number 10's site.

The call for a greener alternative to mass produced phone books  is overwhelming, and an opt-in system is the fairest solution: the UK could spare a staggering 25,420 tons of paper and 36,000 tons of wasted carbon emissions if an opt-in service resulted in the forecasted 41% reduction in printed directories. [2.1]

Dominic Blackburn, Product Director of 192.com says:
"Since the launch of the 'Say No To Phonebooks' campaign, we've witnessed BT and Yell reduce the size of their outdated directories but this really is a drop in the ocean of phonebook waste. We now have a situation where BT will push these phone directories through the letterboxes of people that have clearly stated through the Mailing Preference Service that they don't want to receive junk mail. Surely phone directories are the biggest piece of junk mail of all?" "While directory publishers should be much more up-front on how to opt-out of receiving phone books, it's time these companies went one step further and moved the nation to an opt-in system. After all, that's what the public is asking for and it is the only way to make a significant reduction in phone book waste".

For instructions on how to opt-out of receiving phone books and to share your views, visit www.saynotophonebooks.org

Research data

  1. 1.0 Based on the average weight of a phonebook, multiplied by 75 million, the amount of phonebooks estimated by 192.com to be produced each year.
  2. 2.0 2.1 on an independent poll of 1000 UK residents. Conducted by Redshift Research between 5th & 7th September 2009 with a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 1000 interviews.
  3. 3.0 One Poll research unveiled in April this year recorded 1000 responses from nationally representative sample.

Say No To Phonebooks

192.com have been running the "Say No To Phone Books" campaign, calling on the British Government to establish an opt-in system for phonebooks. The campaign has attracted over 12,000 signatures on a Downing Street ePetition, the fifth largest response ever for an environmental petition of its kind.

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.

For more information contact the 192.com Press Office.