In its annual report on the progress it has made in hitting various environmental goals, Hachette Book Group said today that it is ahead of pace in two key areas but behind in a third. HBG has already surpassed its target for reducing total greenhouse gas emissions as well as for the use of Forest Stewardship Council paper, but is behind its goal in increasing the use of recycled paper.

HBG had hoped to increase its recycled fiber usage from 3% in its benchmark year of 2008 to 30% by 2012, but was at only 8% in 2011 due to what HBG said is the scarcity and poor quality of recycled fiber as well as the closing of de-inking facilities. Its new goal is to increase to 20% post-consumer recycled fiber usage for its products through 2016 and the publisher said it will continue to explore alternate sources of supply to meet the challenge of securing adequate recycled fiber for its books.

The news on reducing overall climate impacts was much better. In 2009, HBG committed to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions linked to publishing operations--including paper-- by 20% by 2020, from 2008 and has already cut emissions levels by 40%. Given the “rapid pace of marketplace changes,” HBG said it will aim to reduce its total carbon footprint by an average of 5% annually from 2013 – 2015, for a cumulative 50% reduction in the six years since announcing our environmental policy.

In terms of use of FSC certified paper, HBG estimates that its usage will exceed 80% at the end of 2012, far ahead of its original goal of at least 20% certified by this year. By 2015, HBG’s goal is to have 90% of the company’s paper FSC certified.

In connection to meeting that objective, HBG said its goal is to phase out the use of any controversial sources of paper fiber and require its paper to be free of unacceptable sources as defined by FSC’s controlled wood standard. According to HBG, it has changed sources of supply at certain mills that have demonstrated inconsistencies in their chain of custody, and noted that "we will continue to keep close watch on both domestic and international controversies and take action in line with our policy."

HBG’s environmental polices are overseen by an in-house task force that consists of employees from the production, facilities, distribution, and communications departments