Opting out of phone books: Yes, and not yet but soon


I did a story for CBC News in Vancouver today that’s already getting a bunch of comments on our site. It’s about phone books being delivered that aren’t wanted, and what companies are doing about it.

Not one but two thick business directories arrived on Vancouver doorstops a few weeks ago. I didn’t think much more about them until I saw Darren Barefoot’s post about putting the new books straight into the recycling bin.

Others have also been griping about it too. Jonathon Narvey blogged about it and last year started a group on Facebook called The Yellow Pages Must be Stopped. His concern, as he said in my story:

I understand they are recyclable and I understand they’re made from recycled products, but the energy that goes into making a product that very few people want just seems to me a huge waste of resources.”

So what do the companies say? Both say their print directory is still well used. But, they’re responding to the concerns by letting people get off the distribution list if they want to.

Canpages: You can opt out now

This is the newer book in Metro Vancouver, but Canpages still delivers more than 800,000 business directories here (about the same number as their competition, the Yellow Pages Group, and at about the same time).

Their Director of Marketing, Michael Oldewening, told me you can opt-out now from Canpages directory — and you have been able to for years. This year, for the first time, he said, there is a feedback form in the directory (page 142 in Vancouver edition) where you can request removal from the distribution list. You can also do that online here.

Oldewening said only 50 to 60 people have done that so far in the Vancouver area. It’s unclear whether that low number is because the remainder want to receive the book, don’t know that opting out is an option, or know it is but can’t be bothered.

Yellow Pages Group: Opting out in 2009

Right now, you can’t opt out of the Yellow Pages Group directory, but that’s changing this year. (As Darren had translated from Montreal coverage of the topic)

I spoke to Paul Batchelor, the VP of Sales for for the Western Region. He said they also hadn’t had many requests to opt out. But, Yellow Pages is starting a program in time for the 2010 phone book to address concerns about the waste of unwanted books.

What about a reverse-onus program, where you have to opt-in to get one? Not something Yellow Pages would consider now, said Batchelor. According to their research, two-thirds of the population uses a phone book on a regular basis, so that wouldn’t make sense, he said.


  1. I noticed our building got their delivery of the useless books 😉

    I mean, I can find anything (and more info) on the internet about a company/person faster/quicker than I can with the paper versions.

    Our landlord was upset because he said they(the people who delivered them) are not supposed to come into our building and deliver them. 99% of them I think ended in our building’s lobby being unwanted.

  2. Most of the phone books in my building ended up in the trash, I would like to know who is responsible of delivering this useless dinosaurs, enough is enough , we have expressed in previous years that we don’t want the phonebooks, why do they not respect our choices? I’ve called I have even brought them back to Telus @ Kingsway and Boundary. STOP MAKING THIS USELES BOOKS, if its jobs and money there are worried about than they should explore other venues in the internet. Or maybe Google has taken over and if they cant compete I hope it goes under fast, and lead way to smarter adds, not only smarter for the environment but technology wise. I rather see the forest standing than in a pile of useless books contaminated with toxic ink same goes for those flyers (junk mail).

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