Hachette Book Group has issued its annual environmental report, which showed gains in some areas and setbacks in others.
The biggest challenge for HBG came in reducing its carbon footprint. The publisher had set an annual reduction goal of 2.5% for the 2017-2020 period, but in 2018, its footprint rose 5% over 2017, an increase HBG attributed to “carbon heavy paper stock needed for several of our 2018 titles.” Partially offsetting that increase, HBG said, were carbon improvements thanks to significant decreases in business travel and in mailing out of its New York and Boston offices, and improvements in electricity usage in its Boulder location.
While HBG struggled on the carbon front, it hit a home run in the use of certified paper. In 2018, the publisher’s FSC (Forest Stewardship Certified) fiber usage exceeded 97.6%, even with 2017. However, combining FSC and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), 100% of HBG’s overall paper usage in 2018 came from certified fiber, exceeding its combined FSC/SFI goal of 95%, the company reported.
HBG, like all publishers, is facing a number of hurdles in increasing its use of recycled paper. In the last few years, the cost of recycled paper has risen even though the quality has declined, as the paper has become harder to obtain. In addition, 2018 saw a decline in the output of HBG mass-market paperbacks, a format that uses recycled fiber. As a result of these factors, HBG’s use of recycled paper fell slightly in 2018 compared to 2017, and comprised 8.1% of its overall paper usage last year. The company’s goal is to get recycled paper to be 20% of its paper usage by 2020, from a 2008 benchmark of 3%.
The company’s fiber testing and monitoring efforts have so far had the desired results—ensuring that vendors do not source paper from endangered forests. According to HBG, its fiber testing, which it began in the second half of 2016, has not found any fiber sourced from at risk areas or tropical hardwood forest in the titles it has sampled. HBG added that it continues to “discuss paper sourcing with our suppliers and remind them of their strict adherence to HBG’s paper and environmental standards.”
Commenting on HBG’s overall environmental performance in 2018, CEO Michael Pietsch said: “We were able to make significant improvements in business travel, mailing, and electricity that helped offset the carbon impact of our paper usage in 2018. Hachette Book Group will continue to work toward improvements in paper, production, and energy use—three main areas of focus in our green program.”