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Independent Publishers Guild Partners with Hewlett-Packard for Localised Printing Project

Megan Whitlock

With more and more publishers finding innovative ways to increase their sustainability, the latest project from The Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) is a positive step towards reducing the carbon footprint of publishing. Printing company Hewlett-Packard have partnered with the IPG to drive a focus towards localised printing; they have formed a working group of publishers to analyse ways the industry can cut greenhouse gases by transferring printing currently done in Asia, to UK or European suppliers.

Earlier this year, Book Riot quoted a study that estimated the carbon footprint of a paperback book to be 2.7 kg CO2 equivalent per book, with a large chunk of that coming from forest loss, shipping and transportation (Book Riot, 2022). Publishers, such as Hachette, have already come up with offsetting remedies, for example, by moving to “100% eco-friendly paper fill for shipping cartons” and installing “new Boxsizer technology in our warehouse, [which] cuts cartons to fit their contents more tightly, reducing the amount of carton fill needed, reducing our shipping volume, reducing damages and resulting in a greener, more efficient method of shipping books,” (HBG’s 2019-2020 Environmental Progress Report). Publishing models such as print-on-demand also help to reduce wastage and unnecessary shipping costs. However, the book supply chain issues of the last year - often caused by shipping problems - are evidence of the industry’s heavy reliance on international printing.

Hewlett-Packard and the Independent Publishing Guild’s Localised Printing Project has already seen independent publishers, such as Nosy Crow and Hardie Grant, as well as printers, such as Clays, getting involved. It will also help the Guild work towards achieving some of the goals set from their Book Journeys Project, which included ending air freight (or compensation via credible offsets) by 2030.

The chair of the IPG’s Sustainability Action Group, Amanda Ridout, is quoted in The Bookseller as saying, “Independent publishers are determined to reduce the environmental footprint of printing books, and this cross-industry collaboration is a vital first step. The research findings will help us set meaningful targets for improvement, and we are grateful to the children’s and illustrated publishers who are demonstrating their commitment to improving sustainability by steering this work," (The Bookseller, 2022).


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