Behind Simon & Schuster’s New ‘Green’ Initiative
The book publishing industry took another step forward in its ongoing efforts to lessen its environmental impact with the recent announcement that Simon & Schuster Inc. (www.SimonSays.com) has launched a major environmental initiative and paper policy. As a result of this new initiative, the New York-based publishing company will aim to increase the amount of recycled fiber in the paper used to manufacture its books. It follows in the footsteps of Random House Inc., which launched a similar initiative last year.
For its books printed and bound in the United States, Simon & Schuster plans to increase from its current 10 percent to 25 percent or more the level of recycled fiber in its purchased paper by 2012, representing a 150-percent increase. This increase will save about 483,000 trees annually and reduce nearly 85 million pounds in greenhouse gases, notes the company. Simon & Schuster purchases about 70,000 tons of paper annually.
“Citizen, employee and corporate awareness, and desire for environmentally friendly practices have been on the rise for a few years now. We felt that the time was right to codify what Simon & Schuster could do to make a difference in this area,” says Vice President of Corporate Communications Adam Rothberg, who notes that Simon & Schuster UK is expected to follow suit with a similar environmental policy.
The company also will attempt to eliminate the use of paper that may contain fiber from endangered or old-growth forest areas with a goal that, by 2012, at least 10 percent of its purchased paper will be derived from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified forests. According to Simon & Schuster, it is the first major trade publisher to include an FSC target in its environmental policy.
“We are committed to publishing in a manner that both respects the environment and helps preserve the world’s great forest regions for the use and pleasure of future generations,” says Jack Romanos, president and chief executive officer.
The goals detailed in Simon & Schuster’s new environmental initiative and paper policy were developed by a group of company executives, including Joe D’Onofrio, senior vice president, supply chain; Karen Roman, vice president, director of production and manufacturing; Ann Ralph, director of paper purchasing; and Rothberg.
“The amount of information, the issues involved and the choices that had to be made turned out to be enormously … complex. … Our goals were developed out of what we thought we could realistically achieve in these areas based on the marketplace for fiber and available forest acreage for the types of paper we use,” says Rothberg. “It was a rather involved process. We had meetings with many of our suppliers to get a sense of the marketplace for recycled fiber and also their perspective on forest-certification issues. We had much counsel and guidance from Green Press Initiative. …”
The Green Press Initiative (GPI; www.GreenPressInitiative.org) works with book publishers to help them improve their environmental impact. “Simon & Schuster joins Random House as another multinational [publishing company] taking issues of social responsibility very seriously,” says Tyson Miller, executive director, GPI.
To achieve its goals, Simon & Schuster will work with its current suppliers, rather than seeking new suppliers, says Rothberg.
Increasing its use of paper with higher levels of recycled fiber will not be without challenges, however, particularly in terms of cost. “At current rates, there will certainly be increased costs to obtain this paper, but [this challenge is one] that we believe we can manage over time,” says Rothberg. “We are hopeful that as more publishers develop their own policies, collection efforts will increase, and suppliers will ramp up production to meet demand, creating a more robust marketplace for recycled fiber.” Another challenge will be longer lead times needed for paper delivery due to the limited availability of this type of paper, notes Rothberg.
“We look forward to working with our vendors and partners in the supply chain, and our colleagues at other publishing houses and in other industries to create a robust marketplace for recycled fiber, to encourage responsible forest-management practices, and to continue to find ways in which we can have a positive impact on the environment,” says Carolyn K. Reidy, who will replace Romanos as Simon & Schuster’s president and CEO in 2008.
In addition to increasing its use of more environmentally friendly paper, Simon & Schuster’s new paper policy includes other commitments to green publishing, including recycling all inventory destruction as mixed-use paper and purchasing shipping cartons made from 100-percent-recycled post-consumer paper.
Simon & Schuster also has established a list of companywide “Eco-Friendly Practices.” Many of the practices were already in place, Rothberg explains, while others are relatively new, including the launch of an electronic manuscript program in the sales division. As a result of this program, all Simon & Schuster sales reps have been given an e-book reader and will now download manuscripts, replacing the need for photocopied manuscripts. The company estimates that this initiative has the potential to reduce the number of manuscripts reproduced for its sales division by 20,000 per year.
Rothberg adds that his company hopes that its environmentally focused efforts will inspire other publishers to follow suit with similar initiatives.
“Simon & Schuster is truly adding to the continued momentum of transformation underway in the book sector,” notes Miller of GPI.