Tips for Recycling Phone Books

What do you do with a telephone directory once it has expired? On average, we tend to get about two new phone books per year. Here’s how to handle your obsolete phone books.

  • Check your community programs. Many local and state recycling facilities now accept them, possibly even through your curbside program. Find out where you can recycle phone books using Earth911. Telephone directories are recycled into new directories, as well as:
    • Roofing surfaces
    • Insulation materials
    • Grocery bags
    • Paper towels
  • Remove contaminants. Any restrictions on phone book recycling are due to the fact that your phone book is generally littered with material that can contaminate the recycling process, such as magnets and plastics. It is best to be sure you check with your local and state guidelines for recycling to ensure you have prepped your phone book properly before tossing it in a bin.
  • Compost the content. Shred the pages and use them in your garden to help keep weeds down. The paper is biodegradable and will eventually break down.
  • Get creative with Reuse. Use the whole book as a booster seat: Simply cover it with the fabric of your choice and seal the seams with fabric glue or a needle and thread. Use the bulky directories to dry leaves and flowers. Shredded phone book pages can also be used as a substitute for packing peanuts, which are not biodegradable.

Here in Traverse City, MI where headquarters is located, we have recycling facilities and services available, the most influential of which is the curbside pickup recycling program. Here is an excerpt from their recycling website:

Where Can I Recycle?

All residents of Grand Traverse County have the opportunity to recycle either at one of the Drop-off Sites located within the County or choosing to subscribe to curbside recycling services.

Curbside recycling is the most effective way to recycle. To be able to put your recyclables out at the curb, unsorted, is so much easier to do. If residents are not currently utilizing curbside recycling service, they must contact their hauler to subscribe.

What Can I Recycle?

Below are examples of recyclable items accepted. Many waste haulers accept material beyond what is required and noted.


  • Cardboard
  • Boxboard — cereal boxes, shoe boxes, etc.
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines, catalogs, and other glossy items
  • Office paper — including fax paper, lined paper, colored paper
  • Unwanted mail
  • Wax coated boxes, including milk cartons
  • Phone books


  • #1 PETE & #2 HDPE plastics (look on bottom of item for number)
  • All plastics with a “neck” — water bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles, laundry products, etc…
  • Note: Some haulers are accepting #1-#7 plastic.


  • All glass bottles and containers — all colors


  • Aluminum and steel cans (often called “tin” cans)
  • Aluminum lawn chairs (remove webbing)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Completely empty aerosol and paint cans

Click here to see the entire Grand Traverse Recycling site! Then take the lead and look up your local recycling programs today!