The State Corporation Commission on Thursday granted Verizon’s request to end the automatic delivery of the residential white pages to customers in Virginia.

Instead, the directories will be available online or, by request, in printed form or on CD-ROM.

“The decision to allow Verizon to end the automatic delivery of residential white pages listings is good news for consumers and the environment,’’ said Robert Woltz Jr., president of Verizon Virginia. “People who don’t use the residential white pages listings will not get a Verizon SuperPages directory they don’t necessarily want, and those who do use the listings will be able to get them easily online or by asking for a print or CD-ROM version.”

For decades, regulators across the United States have required phone companies to distribute directories in paper form. The first directory - issued in 1878, two years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone - was a single sheet of paper that listed 50 residents of New Haven, Conn. It eventually grew to become an indispensable staple of American life.

But now Verizon and AT&T, the nation's two dominant land line carriers, say that most people search for numbers online and store frequently used numbers in their cellphones rather look than look them up in the white pages. Land lines are being disconnected at a rate of almost 10 percent each year, according to the companies, and white pages don't list cellphone numbers.

Verizon estimates the change will save 1,640 tons of paper.