The BISG/Green Press Initiative (GPI) Report
The BISG Environmental Committee was formed in 2007 to provide oversight for a study conducted jointly by BISG and GPI, an environmental advocacy organization. Findings from the study, “Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts: Findings from the U.S. Book Industry,” were announced at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo in March, when a full report was made available to the industry. (The report is available [$95 for BISG members and $195 for nonmembers] at BISG.org/publications/index.html).
The report opens with the results of an industry survey on adoption of environmentally friendly practices by publishers, retailers, distributors, printers and paper mills, conducted by its research outsource, the Borealis Centre for Environment and Trade Research. However, the larger part of the report concerns itself with data and analysis of the climate impact and carbon footprint of the book industry, endangered-forest risk assessment, and recommendations and case studies for improving environmental performance.
A variety of charts show levels of industry participation in environmental programs, including an increase from 2.5 percent to 13.3 percent in usage of post-consumer recycled content in book papers from 2004 to 2007, and a preference by 94 percent of respondents for certification by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Although only 104 responses were received from the 1,000 stakeholders polled, the publishers who responded represented 45 percent of market share by revenue. As BISG Executive Director Michael Healy observed, however, “the report is only a first step. More work is needed to complete the picture.”
A major finding in the report shows that the industry emits a net 12.4 million metric tons of carbon, or 8.85 pounds per book, each year.
Bill Upton, president of printer Malloy Inc.—who is a member of BISG’s Environmental Committee and was a contributor to the BISG/GPI report—supports many of the report’s findings and recommendations. He does not, however, support the methodology used to calculate the industry’s carbon footprint. He has prepared a 17-page analysis (found at Malloy.com/CarbonAnalysis) that suggests that when forest regrowth and replenishment are taken into account, the estimated carbon footprint would be reduced to 4.8 million metric tons (or 3.43 pounds per book each year).
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.