Survey Sets Benchmarks for Tracking Book Industry Sustainability

Survey Sets Benchmarks for Tracking Book Industry Sustainability

A large chunk of the book industry is embracing green publishing, and sustainability is steadily spreading through the book world, says a new report.

"Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts," co-commissioned by the Green Press Initiative and the Book Industry Study Group, says that more than half of the publishers surveyed plan to increase the amount of recycled paper they use and about 60 percent have or are working on an environmental policy.

The report is based on a survey of 76 publishers, who represent about half the U.S. book market, and a number of mills, printers, retailers, distributors and wholesalers, according to the Associated Press.

Of the publishers that don't have environmental policies, the survey found, some don't take environmental issues seriously enough, and others do not want to foot the added costs of switching paper types or moving to renewable energy.

The survey also found that recycled content fiber at the mill level has increased from 2.5 percent in 2004 to 13.3 percent in 2007. Some book publishers like Scholastic and Simon & Schuster have announced goals for increased their books' recycled content. And 130 publishers, 8 printers and 2 paper manufacturers have so far signed onto the Book Industry Treatise on Responsible Paper, a commitment to using more recycled-content paper as well as paper sourced from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The groups behind the report plan to use it as a baseline to track changes and improvements in the book industry. The survey also gathered data on chlorine-free paper, recycling books and trimmings, sourcing from endangered or high conservation value forests, carbon footprints and waste disposal. The 86-page report is available as a hard copy or PDF, for varying prices.