Only 2% of the world's paper is turned into books, and while we're proud of all our books here at Penguin, we are mindful that trees have to become paper, some of which will eventually become books.
So we'd like to tell you what we at Penguin are doing to reduce our effects on the environment. As a well-known frog once said, it's not easy being green. But at Penguin we are doing our very best.
Is the planet really warming up?
Yes. The average surface air temperature on planet Earth has risen by almost one Centigrade in the last century and the evidence suggests that human activities are the dominant cause. Each year, the world's power stations, vehicles, homes and workplaces add around 26 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas, along with other such as methane, absorbs heat that would otherwise pass into space, hence warming the planet.
So, it will get a little hotter. So what?
Unfortunately, just a minor increase in global temperatures is likely to lead to catastrophic effects - not necessarily for all of us immediately - but everyone around the world will be in some way affected in the end.
Rising sea level, floods, droughts, heatwaves, powerful hurricanes… the symptoms of climate change threaten to displace millions of people from their homes, commit thousands of species to extinction and damage agriculture in the poorest countries. According to the World Health Organisation, around 150,000 people already die each year from causes linked to climate change.
I've heard that trees reduce climate change. Do they?
The link between trees and climate change is actually quite complicated, but one fact is unavoidable: cutting down existing forests without replanting them massively aggravates the problem. Around a quarter of global carbon emissions are accounted for by deforestation.
The information and figures come from The Rough Guide to Climate Change
Penguin's biggest impact on the environment comes from our use of paper (though it may surprise you to know that book manufacture only accounts for 2% of world paper use). For a number of years Penguin has sought responsible paper sourcing and in June 2006 we announced that by the end of that year we would print all our monochrome hardback and trade paperback titles on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. FSC certification shows that the paper comes from environmentally and socially responsible sources.
In 2006, FSC certified paper was much harder to come by for colour and mass paperback titles. Penguin is a member of the WWF UK Forest & Trade Network, a group of companies working together with WWF, the environmental charity to improve the management of the world's forests. We are working with WWF on a range of issues including exploring new opportunities to source FSC certified paper. We now also print our mass market paperback titles on FSC certified paper. We will continue to report our progress on this pressing issue here.
A Penguin Wood
Penguin planted the first of more than 40,000 trees at the launch of the Penguin Wood
at Botany Bay, near Linton in south Derbyshire on Friday 19 January 2007.
This 96-acre site is being developed in partnership with the Woodland Trust
, the UK's biggest charity dedicated solely to saving woods. The new woodland is the result of a new approach to woodland creation with a mixture of seeds and saplings planted at the site resulting in over 40,000 trees over the next five years. There will also be pockets of wildflower meadow and grassland left to regenerate at nature's pace, making the wood rich in wildlife.
The site will be used to host further planting days for local school children and the community.
Penguin CEO John Makinson says:
"Penguin is proud to be partnered with the Woodland Trust to develop the Penguin Wood which will deepen our commitment to the environment by putting back some of the trees we use to create our books as well as create a place for future generations to enjoy."
Penguin has offices and warehouses around the world and wherever our presence is felt we would like to minimise our impact on the environment. To that end at our offices in 80 Strand, London, we have taken the following steps:
- All Penguin's A4 paper for printing and photocopying has been replaced with 100% recycled paper, while our letter-headed stationery is now a recycled paper that contains at least 75% post-consumer waste and 25% FSC-certified fibre.
- Initiatives have been taken to encourage staff to print only when necessary and to share documentation.
- On the premises we recycle white and coloured paper, magazines, newspapers, cardboard, fluorescent light tubes, toner cartridges, glass and plastic bottles, cans, CDs, mobile phones, batteries, electronic equipment, cooking oil and 40% of our general waste.
- Penguin works with Thames21
, an environmental charity working to bring London's waterways to life, to remove graffiti and litter, creating new habitats for wildlife.
- All computers, monitors and lights are turned off at the end of the working day.
- The environmental cost of all our business flights is now offset by Climate Care. Quarterly, we report our flights and for every tonne of carbon dioxide we will pay £7.50 which will go towards a series of projects which focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency and forest restoration. (A return flight from London to New York produces 1.54 tonnes of carbon dioxide, or £11.55 donated to Climate Care.)
- At 80 Strand we have a canteen that uses recycled napkins and all coffee drinkers may take home their grounds in a biodegradable bag for putting in their compost.
- Penguin runs an Eco-committee which is exploring new ways to reduce our emissions and to ensure our impact on the environment is minimal.
- Returns from booksellers go to Bookaid
There is much more to do - for all of us.
Penguin, as the publishers of recent books like James Lovelock's The Revenge of Gaia, George Monbiot's Heat, Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers and The Rough Guide to Climate Change, appreciates more than most that we are only just starting to make a difference in terms of providing a sustainable future for ourselves and our business.
We will continue to seek new ways to reduce our carbon footprint while operating a sustainable and ethical business
If you'd like to know more, dip into the following books:
by George Monbiot
Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson (fiction)
Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling (fiction)
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
Climate Change: Who Cares? by Leo Hickman - forthcoming from Puffin (Leo will not only outline the reasons for climate change and how it is leading to the demise of our planet, but will also suggest practical solutions for children to reduce their own carbon footprints. It will be packed with amazing tips, fascinating fact boxes and exciting projects - and most of these activities can be carried out at school or at home.)
- Using 2003 as the base year, we aim to reduce energy use across the company by 10% by the end of 2008
- Using 2003 as the base year, we aim to achieve a per employee reduction in air travel by the end of 2007
- By the end of 2007 we aim to reduce CO2 emissions from business car travel in the UK and US by 10% compared to 2003
- Using 2003 as the base year, we aim to achieve a 10% per square metre (gross internal area) reduction in water usage by 31st December 2008
- Maintain our reuse/recycle rate for all unsold books and newsprint in excess of 95%
Plans for 2007
- Maintain inclusion in the key indices of social responsibility
- Continue to raise employee awareness of the steps we are taking on corporate responsibility and how they can help
- Examine ways to minimize the environmental impact of packaging in book distribution
- Continue our drive for independently verified certification to ensure the suitability of paper we purchase for our books and newspapers - this will expand to include jackets and covers
Learn more about what publishers are doing to promote awareness and help the environment at the Publishers Association / Booksellers Environmental Action website, www.green4books.org.uk.
For an easily digestible introduction to climate change, read The Rough Guide to Climate Change.
Read more about the Penguin Wood here.
The following websites will also tell you more about climate change and what you can do to help.
» Friends of the Earth
» Climate Care
» An Inconvenient Truth