Washington state regulators Tuesday ended a decades-old requirement that local telephone companies deliver printed “white pages" directories each year to all their Washington customers.
The change is expected to remove more than 300 tons of unwanted paper directories from waste and recycling bins annually, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 4,000 tons and saving local governments hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in waste-processing costs.
Under the new rule, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission will require companies to make directories available electronically, and provide paper directories only to those customers who request them.
The decision does not prohibit companies from printing paper directories altogether, noting a recent federal court decision acknowledging the companies’ First Amendment rights to do so.
However, it directed any telephone company that chooses to publish paper directories to establish procedures by which customers can “opt out” of receiving them.
“The change is timely,” said UTC Chairman Dave Danner. “More and more, people go on-line for the kind of information the white pages provide. Our action today eliminates tons of unwanted paper.”
The regulation starts May 17.