It may put a dent in recycling contests for school children, and parents may have to resort to pillows to boost their toddlers to the dinner table, but as of Jan. 1, Verizon Communications Inc. will no longer automatically deliver free white pages telephone books to its Pennsylvania customers.

The state Public Utility Commission on Thursday granted the communications giant permission to stop the delivery. However, the company plans to continue distributing books with business and government listings.

The company called the plan an "environmentally-friendly" initiative, according to the state PUC. Verizon distributes about 12 million phone books each year. Canceling the free residential listings is expected to save 2,200 tons of paper a year, according to the company.

Customers will receive notices in their December bills about the new policy. If they still want residential phone books, they can call 1-800-888-8448. The listings are also available on CD-ROMs. The listings can be found online at [1].

Verizon has also stopped delivering residential phone books in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida.

According to a PUC news release, the agency required Verizon to provide adequate customer notice about the change in service as well as the options available to customers who wish to continue to receive paper copies of residential white pages directories.

The PUC opened a comment period on the proposal on Sept. 22. The state's Office of Consumer Advocate filed comments generally in favor of the plan, but requested certain conditions. Verizon addressed those conditions in separate comments filed with the PUC. The company is to consult with the PUC to develop appropriate language for customer notice and bill inserts.