Publishing and the Environment

The environment is a big issue in contemporary publishing. Recently, OPUS (the Oxford Publishing Society) hosted an event at Oxford Brookes University to discuss the issues. Marie Hanson, an MA in Publishing student at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University, reports from the event:

'Edward Milford, Chairman of Earthscan, opened his speech ‘Greening our Publishing' with the provocative question "Is it possible?" He raised key issues such as the sustainability of the ‘green' process, and identified it as an industry-wide problem, which cannot be solved by individual companies working in isolation. With that in mind he outlined his own company's Environmental Policy, stating that in order for it to be a success it must have a substantial effect on the production process; if the policy allows you to continue ‘business as usual', it's not likely to produce the most impressive results.

'Earthscan aims to offset all their CO2 emissions, and have identified that 84% of these come from the paper itself. Roughly translated, a 400g book equals c2kg CO2, the same as traveling 10 km in a typical car, or two uses of a tumble dryer. The remaining percentage comes from travel, freight and office use, and Edward explored how these emissions could be reduced, or offset. For example the new Earthscan offices have not been fitted with air conditioning, and all areas of the office have a separate lighting system. They have implemented other green initiatives, such as recycling, using Fair Trade and local suppliers, and grading suppliers on their green measures. There is even discussion of starting a wormery! These initiatives cost around 0.25% of the company's total profit, and ensure the staff are more aware of how to reduce their effect on the environment.

'The second speaker, Carol Richmond of Wiley-Blackwell, concentrated her talk more specifically on how to reduce the impact of paper usage on our environment. Publishing houses should work to address paper wastage, as at the moment US print runs are commonly 40% too long. The rise of print-on-demand may have an impact on this, and some publishing houses are already beginning to introduce shorter print runs, which not only reduces waste, but saves on storage costs. She also suggested that paper sourcing should be a top priority for all publishing houses, and highlighted the damage that over-farming does to the environment, with the most visible harm being in Indonesia. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) are the two leading companies attempting to combat illegal ‘fiber farming' and to encourage ethical paper sourcing. Currently 7% of the world's forests are certified by the two. Perhaps because of this initiative paper is becoming more expensive, with a 20-30% rise in cost this year alone. A way to combat this would be to make more use of recycled paper. So in order to keep our industry green, and save our planet, recycled loo roll is the way forward!'

Further information about the session can be found on the OPUS website.

Useful websites: green4books; Green Press Initiative

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03 Nov 2008 around 5pm

Filed Under Oxford Publishing & Digital Media | Publishing | European Publishing | Oxford Centre for Publishing Consultancy and Research