The University Record, November 9, 1992

Recycle phone books and save 132 cubic yards of landfill space

University staff, students and faculty have until Nov. 20 to drop off their old phone books for recycling at most loading docks in University buildings.

Assuming that for each of the 27,000 new city telephone directories delivered on campus this month one old phone book is replaced, the University must discard nearly 40 tons of telephone books annually, according to Erica Spiegel, special projects coordinator for Plant Grounds and Waste Management.

The phone books, if not recycled, would take up 132 cubic yards of space in area landfills.

Collecting phone books is a logistical challenge for recycling staff, Spiegel says. The books cannot easily be recycled with other types of paper throughout the rest of the year because of their covers and glue binding. A special collection is warranted only when a large quantity are discarded at a time.

The University, in cooperation with the City of Ann Arbor, has made arrangements to have a recycling processor separate the phone books from newspapers so the two materials can be collected together.

The phone books will be manually sorted from newsprint at the city’s processing center and shipped to a Grand Rapids-based company that re-manufactures them into new products ranging from cellulose wall insulation and hydro-seeding mulch to animal bedding.

Spiegel says Ameritech Publishing Inc., publisher of the city telephone directory, recently changed the glue used for binding from a synthetic base to a water soluble base, which is more readily accepted at paper recycling mills. Also, Ameritech is using soybean oil inks instead of petroleum-based inks. However, the problem of finding an end market for old phone books remains, Spiegel says, since local recycling centers do not accept phone books year round.

The 1992–93 U-M faculty and staff directory is scheduled to be delivered to campus offices between mid-November and the first week in December. Old faculty directories can be recycled if they are on the loading docks by the Nov. 20 deadline.

For information about drop-off locations, call the Recycling Office, 763-5539.