Councilmember O'Brien left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Phone Book Update

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I wasn’t sure whether people would respond to my call to bring in their unwanted phonebooks, but respond you did!  People brought them in by the vanload and one at a time.  When the phone book industry representatives came to my office last week, there were over 600 unwanted phonebooks waiting for them.  Dex came back to pick up the phonebooks for redistribution, but I’m hoping that in the future we can prevent the delivery of unwanted phonebooks in the first place.

Council is considering yellow pages phonebook legislation to address unwanted phonebooks and the waste that they create. The options under consideration include a mandatory opt-out system, an advanced recovery fee for phonebook companies, or an opt-in system where phone books would only be distributed to a customer if that customer first elects to receive them.

We have heard from many residents that you want an opt-in system in Seattle.  Unfortunately there are some hurdles to creating such a system, including claims from the industry as well as some case law that suggest an opt-in system would violate first amendment protections to free speech, including protected commercial speech.  Our law department continues to explore what this type of system might look like.

In the meantime, I am exploring opt-out legislation, asking how we make it the most robust and effective system for reducing waste and placing the cost burden on the suppliers.  Some of the aspects and principles that we are incorporating include having a single portal for Seattle residents to opt-out of all yellow pages phone books, consequences for distributors and/or publishers who deliver to those on the opt-out list, and phone book producers bear the cost of recycling.

As we’re working on legislation to address this problem in the future, there are steps you can take now to get rid of unwanted phonebooks and voluntarily opt-out of future deliveries:

  1. Dex is currently delivering books in Seattle – if you receive Dex books that you do not want, you can contact Kari Untereker at or 877-435-0012 to have Dex pick them up. Copy me on your emails to Dex at  so that I can continue to track your responses to unwanted phonebooks.
  2. To opt out of Dex phone books in the future, go online and follow the instructions at “Select your Dex
  3. To opt-out of other yellow pages phone books, visit  Superpages will be delivering this fall, so opt-out now to avoid these additional books.


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Comment from Erin
Time July 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm

What are we supposed to do if we live in an apartment building that gets a mass dump of phone books? I hardly think one or two tenants opting out is going to change anything. Is there a way for an entire building to opt out?

Comment from Jessica
Time August 1, 2010 at 11:17 pm

sign the petition while you’re at it…

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