Bookspeed and the environment: the greenest UK book supplier?

We know how important environmental concerns are to our customers.

Bookspeed was included in John Button’s first edition of Green Pages in 1988, a directory of manufacturers, service providers and retailers of all things green, and we have continued to care about the impact our company makes on our planet. The changes that humanity needs to make to avoid the worst of the climate catastrophe will likely impact on every single industry that exists, but it is becoming easier to be greener since these issues have become global concerns.

We love selling books, bringing ideas and delight to everyone in the process, and are proud that they are a product made mainly from a natural material, with an indefinite life for an indefinite number of readers! However, we appreciate there is an environmental impact of not only our company’s practices, but of the whole bookselling supply chain. This page lets you know what Bookspeed is doing about sustainability.

Bookspeed’s place in the book industry

  • FSC® Certified Paper Recent years have seen a rapid acceleration in the publishing industry's efforts to use only FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper. Here are details of targets set by some of the largest that we work with:
  • Penguin in 2017 98% of their paper was from FSC® certified sources and their goal is for 100% by the end of 2020.
  • Hachette in 2019 they exceeded their target for 80% of their titles be printed on FSC® papers. They are committed to continuing to increase this percentage each year going forward.
  • Harper Collins - in 2018 they purchased 27,120 tonnes of book paper globally, 99% of which was FSC certified. They aim to print 100% of their books on FSC certified materials by 2020.
  • Find out more about the FSC scheme:
  • The Book Chain Project Bookspeed is investigating participation in the Book Chain Project, which aims to make sense of complex supply chains for books by collecting and analysing data and connecting stakeholders along the chain. Publishers use this collective knowledge to make informed decisions for their own book production. Find out more about the Book Chain project:
  • DPD Carriers Bookspeed has appointed DPD, currently the UK's only carbon neutral carrier, to deliver our parcels. Like us, their aim is to make a positive impact on the environment through what they do each and every day: Find out more about DPD's Carbon Neutral Commitment:
  • Sharing our concerns with publishers In addition to exploring the Book Chain Project, Bookspeed has a rolling programme of seeking reassurance from suppliers of their commitment to use 100% FSC certified paper and requesting information about their progress in other areas of sustainable practice.


Action – what has the company done so far?

  • Solar Power Generation Bookspeed installed two Solar PV arrays in 2016 on its main site with a resulting reduction in annual electricity usage equivalent to that of just three average UK households - not bad for premises of 13,500 square feet and 50 employees!
  • Electric/Hybrid cars and EV charging points the company fleet now has two hybrid cars and plans for more are underway as well as provision for EV charging points on site by the end of January 2020.
  • Waste service providers we regularly review our waste service providers to ensure that most waste does not even leave the building and minimum waste goes to landfill. We invested in a cardboard shredder which allows us to recycle more of the packaging we receive into the packaging you receive and as a result no longer use new paper for packaging. This means that our waste collections have reduced from three visits per week to two (although cardboard was previously recycled after collection from us). Most of our remaining waste is plastic shrinkwrap from publishers’ printers. This is currently recycled by our waste collector, but we are exploring ways to reduce or recycle this ourselves. Robert, our Warehouse Manager, reports that printers packs are increasingly made from cardboard rather than plastic and we’re now asking suppliers if biodegradable plastic can be used where plastic packaging is necessary.
  • Staff training we hold regular refresher training for staff on how to separate and recycle their personal waste at work.
  • Water bottles all Bookspeeders have reusable aluminium water bottles to fill from water coolers and are asked not to bring plastic water bottles into work. 
  • Cleaning materials in Autumn 2019 we transitioned to eco-friendly products only (we’ve always used mainly eco cleaner but the odd bottle of something stronger has occasionally crept into the cleaning cupboard!) and no weed-killer will be used in future on our paths and fire escape routes.
  • Marketing materials our new website launched in Summer 2019 allows us to create a wider range of digital marketing tools, reducing the amount of paper-based materials that we produce. The seasonal catalogues that we do have printed are on FSC® Certified Paper and the covers are no longer laminated so they are now fully recyclable.


Future ideas and plans 

On the 20th September 2019, Global Climate Strike Action Day, Bookspeed closed for two hours to enable a company-wide exercise for all staff who were not striking to discuss ways to improve the company’s sustainability. Following that exercise, five Bookspeeders formed a Green Team to consider all the ideas from the action day. The team meets every two months and ideas for immediate research and action have already been identified including:

  • Managing hot water, cooking and heating for 50 members of staff
  • Tree-planting and supporting wilding of current green spaces
  • Further digitalisation of paper documents to customers
  • Reducing and managing single-use plastic in the workplace
  • Replacing older lighting units with LED fittings
  • Managing food waste even though there’s not much!
  • Reducing paper use for sales and marketing purposes across the business both from suppliers and to customers
  • Reviewing sales team travel and communications with customers
  • Looking at the environmental impact of exhibiting at Trade Fairs
  • Car-sharing and other low-impact options for travel to, from and for work.
  • Devising an Environmental Policy to complement the H&S and Employment information given to staff at induction.
  • Sending a Bookspeed delegate to a conference on Managing Climate Risk in Edinburgh in Autumn 2019.


Listening to you !

We’d love to hear about your interests and actions to make selling books more sustainable for our planet. Write to us, send pics if you wish and, with your permission, we’ll include them on our website from time to time.


Together we can make a difference!