Search
  • Green Book Alliance

Pioneering survey finds high interest, encouraging levels of participation across the global book industry


Between November 2020 and January 2021, the Green Book Alliance, a joint effort led by Book Industry Communication, BookNet Canada, and the Book Industry Study Group, surveyed publishers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, retailers, and industry service providers to better understand the current state of sustainability in book publishing.


The survey received a total of 68 responses from nine countries led by Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. The majority of responses came from publishers. The number of responses received is lower than we had hoped, and the lower volume makes it harder to draw wider-ranging conclusions from the responses. We plan to partner more closely with other sustainability efforts, including those led by national organizations, to spread the word about follow-up surveys.


Key findings from the responses to the survey include:


  • Interest in sustainability is significant; 90% of those responding either have or plan to adopt a policy governing their efforts in this area. Among those responding, the steps taken to date largely address reducing waste, cutting use of non-recyclable materials, and promoting environmentally sound office practices. Some respondents described efforts to offset the carbon footprint of work-related travel, as well as commitments to energy providers that delivered power from renewable sources.

  • About half of those responding indicated that they ask at least some environmental questions depending on the nature of the trading partner/supplier; a quarter don’t ask their supply-chain partners about environmental issues. Only 8% of those answering the survey said they conduct extensive environmental reviews with most or all of our trading partners, but 12% indicated their “decision is 100% influenced by our trading partners’ responses to our environmental questions”. Another 57% indicated that decisions are somewhat influenced by suppliers’ responses.

  • Much of the current focus remains on product certifications, such as FSC sourcing for paper products. Respondents indicated that they were increasingly interested in process certifications, both for themselves and supply-chain partners, a move that will require deeper discussions and a new body of research to establish best practices. Certifications represent an area the Green Book Alliance is considering as a mid-term offering.

  • Responding organizations have taken steps to reduce their own carbon footprints. The most common actions to date include greater use of print-on-demand technologies, ordering shorter press runs to avoid waste, printing locally, and sourcing paper and distribution components, such as pallets, in an environmentally responsible manner.

  • Some organizations are setting KPIs and measuring impact, but they represent a minority of those responding. About 28% indicated they set goals today; another quarter indicated they have plans to do so. More than a third said they do not set goals or measure progress toward them.

  • Almost 85% of those responding expressed interest in online or in-person events that might be hosted by the Green Book Alliance. The most common requests for website content included: a directory of book industry resources; case studies of sustainability initiatives; and research results.

  • Research efforts of greatest interest included documenting the carbon footprint for the book industry supply chain, and the environmental impact of current industry practices. A majority also sought information on highlighting good efforts done by industry segments, as well as developing metrics to guide certification and supply chain awards.

​Next steps

The survey confirms the value of offering information, events, and research about sustainability in ways that inform the book industry around the world. For the balance of 2021, the Alliance makes three firm commitments, shown below, and identifies four other initiatives that may be accomplished in the second half of 2021 or early 2022.


Work this year will also include efforts to build a governing council, both to broaden the coalition of engaged parties and to raise money that would be dedicated to research projects, information gathering, and case study development. Members of the Alliance will be reaching out in the second quarter to discuss the benefits of a governing council with the book publishing community.


Firm commitments

  • Continued presentation of sustainability events, led by BIC’s Green Brunch series

  • Governance: forming an oversight council, soliciting support (including contributions)

  • Outreach to industry partners to frame one or more research projects of interest


On the drawing board

  • Joint event with the IPA and its Publishers Compact at or during Frankfurt Book Fair

  • Updating the GBA web site to share the results of this survey and address the opportunities it has identified

  • Checklists or guidelines on how to talk with your trading partners about their sustainability profile

  • Solicitation and publication of case studies that demonstrate how sustainability objectives can be established, measured, and met

What you get for supporting the Green Book Alliance

  • Select and shape research projects of greatest interest, sharing results across multiple markets

  • Create a book industry specific global industry resource of shared information on sustainability efforts and best practices

  • Defining and approving accreditation schemes and awards


For more information

More detailed information about the survey results is available upon request.


info@greenbookalliance.org


2 views
  • Green Book Alliance

The Green Book Alliance has recently taken part in, or hosted, presentations at:


BookNet Canada's Tech Forum

BISG Annual Meeting of Members

Edleweiss Bookfest

Book Summit 21


You can still catch us online on July 1st as part of the Online Book Fair (LBF):


The Green Book Alliance: Making the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals a Reality

Thursday, 1 July 2021

11:00-12:00| Event time (GMT+1)

Free registration required


Sustainability and eco-consumers are here to stay and in response, the book industry needs to reduce waste, use more green energy, promote the circular economy and maximise green efficiencies. Our industry needs to be able to monitor its position and not only measure its progress and successes but promote and share them. International collaboration and sharing best practices (both established and new) are vital as this needs to be a concerted effort globally. BIC, as the long-established dedicated supply chain organisation for the book industry, is at the heart of leading the greening required and in June 2020 was instrumental in the creation of the Green Book Alliance with BISG in the US and Book Net Canada.


In this session, attendees will hear from the United Nations directly about their Sustainability Development goals and how the Green Book Alliance’s international initiative is working towards making them a reality.



3 views
  • Green Book Alliance

Last month, the Green Book Alliance, led by BIC, BookNet Canada, and BISG, launched its first survey, built to gather information about some aspects of the current state of sustainability in the global book trade. The survey remains open, but we’ve received enough responses to provide a sneak peek:


  • 88% of those responding indicated they either have (60%) or are planning to adopt (28%) an environmental policy. Almost half (46%) have a department or person responsible for their environmental efforts.

  • The top three commitments made to date include reducing waste, recycling materials, and lowering energy consumption.

  • Efforts to reduce companies’ carbon footprint are led by greater use of on-demand printing, shorter print runs, and avoiding overprinting.

  • A quarter of respondents purchase at least some carbon offsets, and another 30% have plans to do so.

  • More than 80% of those responding expressed interest in being part of industry forums or discussions hosted by the Green Book Alliance.

  • We’re just getting started, but those responding put high value on the Green Book Alliance providing research results, case studies of sustainability initiatives, and a resource directory. A compilation of environmental events fell a bit behind that group.

  • Among research projects, early favorites included documenting the industry’s carbon footprint and understanding the environmental impact of current practices. Other topics of interest are partnering with other industries, developing metrics to inform certification, and highlighting efforts within the industry.


The survey remains open through January 29, with a full report planned for late February. The survey remains somewhat weighted toward responses from publishers, and we’re still looking for greater participation from manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and libraries. Take the survey!

22 views
1
2