Coming to grips with sustainability within your organisation can seem a little daunting. Luckily there are now many excellent resources to help you get started, or to help you keep your progress going.
One of the best ways to begin is to identify people within your organisation who have a passion and interest in this work. Our report from the Sustainable Business Network recommends forming a climate action group within your organisation to drive your sustainability actions, and giving them time and resources to achieve them.
You can begin your climate action anywhere, but one good way is to map out the carbon footprint of your business. There are several online tools available to map your carbon footprint, but one recommended by the Sustainable Business Network is the Climate Action Toolbox:
Be aware that completing the footprint will require your action group collecting information about:
- Energy use in your offices or warehouses
- Fuels consumption of your vehicles
- Consumption of energy from outsourced freight
- Energy used during business travel
…as well as other activities. This may involve digging into the activities and energy use of third party organisations such as printers and freight companies (more help with this is included further down).
The tool may not give you all the answers, but it should help you identify the emission hotspots.
Once you have an idea about where you want to take action, develop an action plan. Again the Climate Cation Toolbox can help you, but you might also find the Australian Publishers Association’s Greener Publishing Guide useful:
The guide is full of ideas that you can use in your workplaces and elsewhere to help formulate your action plan.
It’s no secret that New Zealand is at the bottom of a long supply chain, with many New Zealand publishers relying heavily on printing operations in China and other parts of Asia. But there are still things you can do to influence activities there.
The Green Book Alliance (https://www.greenbookalliance.org/) has produced an excellent Publisher Printer Sustainability Checklist that can be downloaded here:
This can form the basis of questions you can ask your printers and paper suppliers. Note that many large overseas publishers are already asking these questions of their printing partners, so many printers should be able to offer this information already.
While it’s not always possible to incorporate lower impact approaches when designing books, you can sometimes make decisions about using one colour printing or standardised formats. The UK’s Book Chain Project has a great guide for designing low impact books.
Again, because of our location, many publishers here will need to freight large numbers of books to and from New Zealand. But there are still areas where the choices made can make a difference.
- Where possible use sea freight over airfreight
- Where possible use local printing, or printers close to your markets
- Investigate print on demand
- Consider buying carbon credits to offset airfreight
- Ask for low impact alternatives for the packaging of your books
More information is available as part of the APA’s Greener Publishing Guide:
There are direct actions you can take in your workplace that will have a climate impact:
- Generally reduce energy usage in your offices and warehouses where you can
- Make low impact choices for packaging and other office products
- Engage with people in your organisations to develop climate action initiatives
- Investigate your distribution or ask your distribution partners about sustainable choices and efficiencies
The Climate Action Toolbox has a useful section on Energy Use in buildings or on site’
The nature of the book trade in New Zealand means that publishers often have to deal with books being returned and the pulping of stock that is no longer required. This will likely continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future, but there are still things that can be done to lessen the environmental impact of returns.
- Where possible take action to minimise returns
- Investigate how books are pulped in your warehouse or by your distribution partners
- Manage your inventory with an eye to reducing over-ordering or over stocking
- Investigate print on demand where possible
- Where possible, choose materials that are easily pulped or recycled
The most important part of moving towards a sustainable future is making the decisions to begin, and often the idea of putting more complexity into an already busy workplace can seem daunting. But this work will only become more and more vital. Our industry needs to be part of the world wide efforts to reduce emissions, if we are to save our planet from catastrophic warming. And we need to be seen to be doing so, as more and more consumers make sustainable choices.
PANZ is committed to helping you wherever we can and working at an industry wide level to put sustainable practices into place.
PANZ commissioned a report on sustainability in the New Zealad Publishing insustry. The report was prepared by the Sustainable Business Network in collaboration with the Sustainability Working Group here at PANZ.
For a copy of Climate Action for the New Zealand Publishing Industry: A snapshot and a pathway forward please contact PANZ.