San Francisco was the first city in the United States to ban plastic bags and it may also be the first to enact a phone book ban. The Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 to ban phone books from being delivered to residents and businesses that do not request them. The phone book ban would save the cost of wear and tear on the city’s recycling equipment, which is used to recycle some 1.6 million telephone directories annually. The city claims that each year enough directories are distributed that were they placed in a single stack, they’d reach 8.5 times higher than Mt. Everest.
While directory publishers oppose the phone book ban because of lost advertising revenues and union members fear the loss of jobs, supporters say that the Internet makes the directories unnecessary. Still others say that phone book advertising is largely a scam because high readership claims are based on distribution, not eyeballs and that with or without the phone book ban, the days of printed telephone directories are numbered.