A greener future for the Phone Book
By Faisal Mahomed, Director of BT's UK portfolio businesses
Our mission to connect for good guides everything we do as a business – from being more efficient and greener, to providing the best possible service for our customers and adapting how we operate in an increasingly digital world.
As part of our directory services, one area we are evolving in the coming year is how we deliver the Phone Book.
Since 1880, the Phone Book has been synonymous with BT. For many years it was an essential resource and the only way to find contact information for a person or business. But times have changed and, today, it’s easy to find this information at the click of a mouse or the tap of a smartphone.
With the explosion in data and choice of devices over the past decade, and the increased digitisation of services, the printed Phone Book has now become a memory for many.
In fact, we still print 18 million Phone Books every year, but with dwindling demand and the high environmental impact of printing and distributing these hard copies, we’ve decided that March 2024 will see the last books rolling off the print run.
It’s a move that will have a positive impact on the environment: helping us save around 6,000 tonnes of paper every year – the equivalent of 72,000 trees. It will also help us progress towards BT Group’s target to become a Net Zero business by 2030.
Support for customers
This is a positive change, and it’s something many of our customers have been asking us for. However, it’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly. We know there are a small number of customers who may still rely on a printed Phone Book. To make sure they aren’t left behind, we have consulted with Ofcom and are proactively putting measures in place to support these customers.
Firstly, we’ll be sending a message in Phone Books to ask people to keep hold of them (only a small amount of information changes year-on-year), so they will still be largely relevant for several years to come. Those who really need a printed phone book will be able to order one at a reasonable cost, and we’ll also be hosting a PDF version of the Phone Book available to download from our website. Not resting on this, we’ll be proactively reaching out to relevant charities to ask how we can support their users as much as possible as we move towards the last printed copies in spring next year.
This is an important move for the environment and for our customers, and contribution to BT Group’s overall modernisation and sustainability programme. Our wider directory services portfolio will continue to provide up-to-date information for a range of operator services, including the UK’s 999 service – which BT operates, and which the nation’s emergency services rely on.
In a digital world and with a need to work smarter and more sustainably, BT will continue adapting and modernising its services to meet the changing demands of our customers and wider stakeholders. Our purpose at BT is to connect for good: leading the way to a bright, sustainable future, and this is a real example of putting that into practice.