Corner Office: Hachette Book Group Goes 'Green'
• What about externally—for example, in book manufacturing?
Datos: The paper in our books accounts for over 90 percent of our carbon footprint. Our goal of a tenfold increase in the use of [PCW] recycled paper is one of the most important aspects of our new policy and will influence all of our paper-purchasing decisions.
• How will this affect the bottom line, both in the short term and long term?
Datos: Thanks to a great list of titles, HBG has been able to grow the top line significantly in the past few years. We are also constantly monitoring expenses to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible. These strategies have allowed us to invest in those things that are important to the long-term health of our company (including the environment) while also increasing our profitability in the short term.
• Has Hachette researched what impact its new policy will have on the environment?
Datos: Yes, there are some really great tools available that helped us understand our carbon footprint, especially those endorsed by the Green Press Initiative. We've calculated that implementing these goals will save more than 267,000 trees annually, or 86,000 tons of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of removing nearly 16,000 cars from the road.
• Is Hachette working with its supply chain to implement the policy?
Datos: We recently completed negotiations with all of our paper suppliers and have built a purchasing plan for 2010 that will allow us to make dramatic progress against our recycled and FSC targets. We are also working closely with customers for whom these issues are important.
• What pushed Hachette to launch a formal environmental policy now?
Datos: This issue is really important to many of our customers, authors and employees. We've been working to develop this policy for some time now—we wanted to commit to the most progressive goals, but also wanted to be sure we could deliver on them.
• What do the plans and practices entail in order to meet the goals set by the new policy?
Datos: This policy is quite broad and will likely lead to a series of initiatives that may impact all parts of our company as well as our supply chain partners. We have an environmental board that is a cross-functional team charged with coordinating all of our environmental initiatives, tracking our carbon footprint and reporting annually on our progress.
• How difficult has it been to find recycled content paper and/or FSC-certified paper?
Datos: Availability of papers with environmental properties has grown dramatically in the last few years. All of our paper suppliers have presented us with environmental options on the PCW-recycled and certification fronts.
• Especially considering today's economy and how tight budgets are for most companies, how can others in the publishing industry feasibly follow suit?
Datos: I think the most important thing to do first is to calculate your own carbon footprint and get together a cross-section of folks who are passionate about environmental issues and/or key decision makers in the affected areas. If you dig into the issues deeply enough, you may find environmental options already available to you that are not being fully exploited.
• What advice would you give fellow publishers regarding increasing environmental awareness in a cost-effective way?
Datos: Don't automatically assume that the environmentally friendly path is more expensive or out of reach. If you gather the facts, you may find something is very easy to do and actually saves you money. Likewise, don't rush out and implement every "green" idea that's proposed—it's important to understand the cost trade-offs and focus on those ideas that have the highest return on investment.