PRH UK goes carbon neutral as trade marks Earth Day

PRH UK goes carbon neutral as trade marks Earth Day

Penguin Random House UK is among those in the trade marking Earth Day today (22nd April), with the publisher releasing a new sustainability policy and announcing it is climate neutral across its direct operations.

Alongside PRH's move, a string of other organisations have unveiled initiatives, including Springer Nature, which has signed The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040.

PRH said it has achieved carbon neutrality partly by making its offices and warehouses more energy efficient and shifting to 100% renewable energy, helping to reduce its direct carbon emissions by 65% since 2018.

Single-use plastic within the publisher’s distribution operation has nearly halved since 2017 while 100% of its paper came from FSC certified sources in 2020. It has invested in offsetting where it could not avoid or reduce emissions.

Developed with consultants Brite Green, a new policy now commits to the company becoming climate neutral across its indirect operations, global supply chain and production processes by 2030 and ensuring all its paper and core materials are ethically and sustainably sourced. It also vows to use its brand, books and authors to “amplify the climate emergency and encourage positive behavioural change among readers”.

Because their day-to-day work has the biggest environmental impact, all production, editorial and design teams will have mandatory sustainability training before the end of the year.

Another aim is to highlight the unique role the industry has in publishing books that educate, change minds and influence behaviour. A new dedicated climate hub on has been created to help consumers discover PRH's climate change publishing, which includes Greta Thunberg, Naomi Klein and David Wallace-Wells, plus the new Green Ideas series from Penguin Press.

The new policy sets out a further 10 guiding principles for change, including recycling everything, redistributing returned books into the community, guiding global supply chain partners to be more sustainable, sharing its progress, certifying its work with experts and collaborating across the industry.

Siena Parker, PRH UK's head of creative responsibility, said: “Earth Day is always an opportunity to reflect on our role in combating the climate emergency, and we thought it was a fitting moment to be more transparent about how we’re reducing our environmental impact at Penguin Random House.

“We still have much work to do and in particular are excited to collaborate with partners across the industry to find new ways to address shared challenges, and also to amplify the work of our incredible authors to change minds, inform thinking and adapt behaviour.”

At Springer Nature, signing The Climate Pledge means it commits to measure and report on its greenhouse gas emissions, to implement decarbonisation strategies and to neutralise remaining emissions using carbon offsets.  The pledge was co-founded in 2019, committing to reach the Paris Agreement 10 years early and be net-zero carbon by 2040.

In its most recent sustainable business report, published earlier this month, the company confirmed it is now carbon neutral for emissions related to its offices, fleet and business flights. 

C.e.o. Frank Vrancken Peeters said: “Our publishing can help to improve education, raise awareness, and build knowledge on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and impact reduction. Although Springer Nature is not an energy-intensive company, we believe that climate change calls for all companies to examine their carbon footprint, and we look forward to being a part of a community of organisations that share our commitment to sustainability.”

Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment have released a new video today introducing a joint target to reduce their energy-related emissions to carbon zero by 2048.

The organisations have set science-based targets and are measuring themselves against the three scopes of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. They have pledged to work sustainably and ethically, reduce environmental impact, seek assurances from suppliers that forestry products are legally sourced and promote their environmental ambitions.

Vicky Evans, head of sustainability, said: “Earth Day is an opportunity for us to all to think about the things we could do to safeguard the future of the planet and we’re delighted to be sharing our environmental ambitions today. At Cambridge, we recognise there is a climate emergency and we have a responsibility to our customers, teachers, learners and communities to drive sustainable change. Most importantly, we know we need to go on the journey together.”

In recognition of Earth Day, the press’s academic department is also making a vast range of related online content, including book chapters and journal articles, free to access.

Elsewhere, the National Literacy Trust and Siemens have joined forces to give away over 3,000 exclusively pre-released copies of Martin Dorey’s new book Kids Fight Climate Change (Walker Books) to primary schools.

Schools across the country can access supporting classroom resources and there will be a virtual assembly with Dorey at 10 a.m. today. The author will also be setting a challenge for pupils in which they will pledge their own two-minute challenge in their local communities to help protect the planet this Earth Day and be a #2MinuteSuperhero.

Meanwhile, Ryland Peters & Small is moving to an Forest Stewardship Council-certified publishing programme. Starting with its autumn 2021 releases, all CICO Books and Ryland Peters & Small titles will feature the FSC certified logo.

Indie-focused online retailer is marking the day with an online event at 6.30 p.m. featuring Iceland Foods m.d. Richard Walker, author of The Green Grocer (DK). Walker will be joined by naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham and the event will be hosted by Georgina Wilson-Powell, founder of sustainable living magazine Pebble.

The site is also offsetting carbon emissions from all home deliveries of books across the UK today, including those of rival sites. It will offset its own emissions on a permanent basis.