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Environment

Sustainability in the publishing world

Written by Jacky Hobson
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Originally published
May 4 2021,
updated
May 7 2021

“Publishing for a Sustainable Future” was a focus of the latest Book Industry Study Group's annual meeting. Rightly so, because if ever there was a time for us all to act, and to do whatever we can to lower our carbon-footprint, it’s now. In the world of publishing that means examining, in granular detail, not just the raw materials involved but the entire supply chain; and specifically what HP refers to as “the Journey of an Unsold Book”.*

 

The traditional roadmap

From the paper-mill, through each and every step of the production process to its eventual sale, there is an environmental cost to producing a book. Think deforestation, resources utilised, energy consumed and emissions. And, for the estimated 30% of traditionally produced books where the final destination is not in fact the hands of a reader but the pulper, this environmental cost is greater still.

 

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Breaking the supply chain

Scrutinising the seven milestones in the life of a book, and attempting to minimise the negative effect of each, may have an impact. But there is a limit to how much being ruthless about wastage and spoils, ordering conservatively, and negotiating hard with suppliers to drive down costs can ultimately achieve.

 

Fortunately, publishers now have a smarter choice. Digitalisation and technology have created opportunities to review the whole publishing process, to adopt an agile approach, and replace the outdated print-to-projection model with a print-to-possibility mindset.

 

The POD supply chain

Print-on-Demand is a lean process. It cuts the fat, not simply by trimming individual production stages, but by removing some of those stages altogether. Raw material from the paper mill, meets content from the publisher and, once combined, is shipped direct to the end consumer. No bulk shipping, no storage, no returns, no pulping, no risk.

 

Sustainability + Savings = Opportunity

Removing these excesses naturally generates quantifiable financial benefits and keeps capital in hand, but there’s more. The ability to print only when and as many as are actually sold, means frontlist and backlist titles are always available, making the term “out of print” a relic of the past!

 

Prime is committed to the environment across its 5 UK sites and has manufacturing partners across Europe, in the US, and Australia. We are Forests Matter, FSC® (FSC-C001648) and PEFC Chain of Custody certified and have been ISO 14001 certified since 2008. We are always keen to talk to publishers about how we might improve both their green credentials and their bottom line. Please do get in touch if you’d like to join the conversation.

 

* HP White Paper download

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