The Book Industry Unites on ‘Green’ Issues
Thoughts of major publishing houses such as Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster are often accompanied by thoughts of high competition and rivalry; camaraderie, on the other hand, is not usually top of mind. However, today there is a challenge facing the industry that has united these and many other publishers into a unified front. That challenge: climate change, and the book publishing industry’s impact on it.
The industry’s interest in facilitating change is growing. No doubt about it. Nearly 160 publishers have signed on to the industry’s “Treatise on Responsible Paper Use.” More small and mid-size publishers are joining the likes of Lantern Books and Baker Publishing Group in establishing significant environmental policies and increasing their use of recycled paper. And, in the past year and a half, Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster, three of the largest and most well-known publishers in the world, have implemented their own environmental policies.
While the establishment of these new policies is the best news, it’s also inspiring to see these publishers come together to encourage others in the industry to change.
As Andrew Van der Laan, director and senior project manager of the publishing operations projects group at Random House, comments in this issue’s cover story, “For us, this is not a competition, but a collaboration with our fellow publishers, paper mills and printers.”
The Silent Hero
While companies who have launched environmental policies certainly deserve the spotlight, no story on environmental change in the industry would be complete without significant mention of the Green Press Initiative (GPI). GPI is sort of the silent hero behind much of the change that is taking place around us. The nonprofit organization, led by executive director Tyson Miller, has invested nearly six years, 15,000 hours and a lot of dollars in improving the book industry’s environmental impact, and has catalyzed meaningful environmental policies from nearly 40 percent of the market share. GPI was instrumental in moving the industry’s “Treatise on Responsible Paper Use” to completion, and getting signatories, and it is behind (with cooperation from the Book Industry Study Group) the first-ever environmental benchmarking survey for the industry. GPI’s efforts, all told, have no small impact on our planet. I can say with quite a degree of certainty that this industry would not be where it is with regard to minimizing its environmental impact without GPI’s involvement.