Will Your Sustainability Efforts Stack Up?
However, while it is good news that publishers are devoting more ink to the topic of sustainability in what they publish—and it is laudable that they
are supporting education and giving back to the communities in which
they operate—the bad news is that publishing entails the purchase of paper, ink, printing and distribution services that have a significant environmental impact and are not sustainable as currently practiced.
PERCEIVING A CHANGE
This impact will be increasingly important in an organization's print-related purchasing over the next five years—this is the commonly shared perception among two-thirds of publishers, creative professionals and graphic arts professionals in North America, according to a survey of more than 2,300 industry professionals, conducted by Nima Hunter Inc.
More than 40 percent of those surveyed also perceive the business practices of book publishers as having a negative impact on the environment; 15 percent see the impact as favorable.
But, today, it doesn't necessarily matter how you view the issues or the impact you have. Adversarial attacks by environmental activists and community organizations—against what they see as business practices that have a negative impact on the environment—will continue. Most important, pressure from activist investors like CalPERS (California Public Employee's Retirement System) and TIAA-CREF ( Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund) and sustainable investment funds can be expected to increase.
Publicly traded Time Inc. and Pearson PLC are among the few that appear to be rising to the challenge. Time Inc. published its first Corporate Social Responsibility report last year and has recently appointed a director of sustainability—David Refkin, former president of Time Paper Co.
Pearson devotes a section of its annual report and Web site to its sustainability policies and performance, and even lists the name, address and phone numbers of responsible individuals. It should come as no surprise that Pearson PLC, owner of Pearson Education and the Penguin Group, was also one of the few companies singled out by the DJSI as a publishing-sector sustainability leader.