BA urges trade to reduce environmental impact in green manifesto

BA urges trade to reduce environmental impact in green manifesto

The Booksellers Association is calling on the trade to reduce its environmental impact and take the lead in sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives as it reveals its green manifesto.

Today (23rd July), the BA launched “Green Bookselling: A Manifesto for the BA, Booksellers and the Book Industry”, as part of its ongoing commitment to reducing waste across its membership and throughout the supply chain.

The manifesto calls on publishers and distributors to phase out single-use cardboard in favour of recyclable materials and to take up environmental commitments, including reviewing both the delivery and "inherently wasteful" returns processes, and stopping sending out unsolicited book proofs and marketing materials to booksellers.

BA m.d. Meryl Halls said: “It is vital that everybody in the book industry, from individual booksellers to publishers, and from distributors to printers, makes a concerted effort to reduce their environmental impact.  Booksellers can take the lead in their communities, and in the trade – where there is already a high awareness of the challenge -  and the green manifesto is designed as a key step in committing to doing more to be sustainable and ethical.  The issue is urgent and inevitable, and so we are particularly pleased to be working with other Booksellers Associations on joint activity and initiatives in this area, to the benefit of all our members.”

As well as providing booksellers with recommendations on how to become more environmentally sustainable, the BA, which boasts a Green Bookselling Task Force, is also committing to sustainability promises, including holding a green audit, holding training seminars and reviewing existing processes to reduce environmental impact.

As part of the green manifesto pledge, the BA is recommending that every bookshop eliminates single-use plastic in their business, looks at switching to green energy suppliers and low-energy lighting as well as using local suppliers where appropriate. 

The BA also recommends that bookshops ensure that stationery and other goods are from renewable sources wherever possible, consider only stocking ‘naked’ greetings card ranges (with no cellophane wrapping) and re-uses or recycles packaging material wherever possible. Booksellers are also encouraged to try to ensure the environmental sustainability of bookshop events. 

Publishers and distributors are also being urged to phase out both environmentally damaging packaging materials and the inclusion of multiple paper sheets in deliveries as well as moving to paperless invoicing systems.

Nic Bottomley, BA president, added: “It feels very much like the consumer tide has turned on the environment, and we need to take seriously our customers’ expectations of how we behave as ethical businesses.  Booksellers are already taking the lead on environmental issues and – as always – are sharing good practise. I am really proud of the work we’ve started at the BA on the Green Bookselling Task Force, and thrilled at the resonance across the trade, and the world, in what we are aiming to achieve.  There’s more work to be done, but we have started in good heart and we now look forward to engaging our supply chain partners in the next steps.”

The manifesto is based on three principles: that the need for change to prevent further environmental decline is urgent and permanent; that there is much that individuals and organisations can do; that there is much that the UK book supply chain can do to help.

The BA is working with both the American and Australian Booksellers Associations on this project, reflecting the commitment across the English language territories to improve the book trade’s green credentials, behaviours and aspirations.

Oren Teicher, c.e.o. of the American BA, said: "The American Booksellers Association is pleased to be working with our colleagues in the UK - and around the world - on a series of green initiatives - as we recognise the critical importance of these matters and the special obligation that we in the book business have to be part of the solution, as these are clearly global concerns, and we need to find new ways in which we can cooperate."

Robbie Egan, c.e.o. of the Australian BA, added: “The Australian BA is investigating ways to help our industry respond to the need for better environmental practices, from reducing packaging waste, increased recycling and better management of freight and returns.  Our colleagues in the UK have led the way and we look to this example with the desire to emulate the initiative, and to build a cooperative approach to improving bookselling and the book industry on both a local and a global scale.”