Over the course of the last several years the U.S. book industry has made significant progress towards reducing social and environmental impacts. While it is true that important work is still needed, especially when it comes to ensuring that no fiber is coming from controversial sources, it is worth noting the positive developments detailed below:
Improved Paper Sourcing
Paper use is the industry’s largest impact area; with links to climate, biodiversity and communities.
- The industry has seen a sixfold increase in recycled fiber use from 2004 to 2007 (2.5% to 13.3% from ‘04 to ‘07 and has increased since).
- A large majority of publishers have committed to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified fiber that ensures the highest standard in forest management.
- Approximately 225 publishers have formal environmental policies in place—most with specific targets for eliminating the use of endangered forest fiber and increasing the use of recycled and FSC certified papers.
- These publishers with environmental policies make up about 50% of the book industry’s publisher market share.
Book Industry Treatise
Signed by over 200 publishers, 17 printers, and six paper manufacturers the Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Publishing sets industry wide goals to:
- Use 30% recycled fiber by 2012
- Use 20% FSC certified fiber by 2012
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below a 2006 baseline by 2020
- Eliminate the use of fiber that is sourced from endangered forests or results in social conflict
Book Industry Environmental Council
Founded, and now co-coordinated by Green Press Initiative, the Book Industry Environmental Council allows a diverse group of stakeholders (environmental organizations, publishers, printers, paper manufacturers and retailers) to work together to solve some of the industry’s most pressing environmental problems. The BIEC is currently working on the following four priorities:
- Developing a publisher certification and eco-label that will identify publishers who are leading the way in reducing impacts
- Demonstrating how to achieve a recently established goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 20% by 2020
- Identifying strategies to reduce the number of books that end up in landfills by finding ways to reduce the overproduction of books and recover and recycle discarded books
- Tracking the U.S. book industry’s environmental progress through annual surveys to publisher’s, printers, paper suppliers and retailers (Every five years a more detailed survey will calculate the industry’s full carbon footprint)
- There are now over 100 book papers with strong environmental attributes.
- Over 30 Printers are stocking environmentally responsible papers
- Price premiums are much lower than they were several years ago—many publishers are able to use significant quantities of recycled paper at cost parity
Green Press Initiative has helped to drive many of these changes in concert with industry environmental leaders.