In August 2018 Ethical Consumer sent a questionnaire to Better World Books, which included a question about the company's environmental policy. The company responded stating that it was a BCorporation and that (as of August 2018) it had reused or recycled over 307 million books.
It also stated that it had two environmental reduction targets underway:
- a paperless picking strategic initiative
- consolidation of inbound freight and streamlining logistics
No specific dates or quantifiable targets were given in relation to these initiatives.
An environmental policy was deemed necessary to report on its environmental performance and set targets for the future. A strong policy would include two future, quantified targets, demonstrate that the company had a reasonable understanding of its main impacts, be dated within the previous two years and be independently verified.
The company's website stated that customers could choose to pay for carbon offsetting of their order, which had amounted to 87,000 tons of carbon offsets on BetterWorldBooks.com shipping at the time of research. Ethical Consumer considered carbon offsetting schemes to be problematic and no details were given on specific projects funded.
Furthermore, although the company's purpose was to use revenue from the resale of used and excess books to fund literacy projects and was therefore deemed to be providing an environmental and social alternative, its turnover was too great to qualify for an exemption in this category.
Qumpus, Inc therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Environmental Reporting.

Reference:

https://www.betterworldbooks.com (9 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the Better World Books website, www.betterworldbooks.com, and found that the company sold vinyl LPs, which are made with PVC. This material had been criticised by environmental campaign groups such as Greenpeace the for its negative environmental impact in production, use and disposal.
As such the company lost half a mark under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference:

https://www.betterworldbooks.com (9 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed the Better World Books website www.betterworldbooks.com and found that the company sold leather-bound books, however, it was not considered to form a substantial part of its business. As a result the company lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer’s Animal Rights category.
It also lost half a mark Pollution and Toxics category for the following reason. Leather, as the hide of a dead animal, naturally decomposes. To prevent this decomposition the leather industry uses a cocktail of harmful chemicals to preserve leather, including trivalent chromium sulphate, sodium sulphide, sodium sulfhydrate, arsenic and cyanide. Tannery effluent also contains large amounts of other pollutants, such as protein, hair, salt, lime sludge and acids. These can all pollute the land, air and water supply, making it a highly polluting industry.

Reference:

https://www.betterworldbooks.com (9 August 2018)

In August 2018 Better World Books responded to a questionnaire from Ethical Consumer requesting information about the company’s timber sourcing policy and practices. The company stated:"We do not directly source timber. We do source reused pallets, only."
The company sold new as well as used books and so would be expected to have a timber sourcing policy. However, no information relating to a timber sourcing policy could be found. How illegal timber was excluded from the company’s supply chain was not discussed, no clear targets were presented and minimum standards relating to the sourcing of timber products was not stated. The company was selling wood products not labelled as coming from FSC sources. Qumpus/Better World Books therefore received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for its timber sourcing policy.

Reference:

https://www.betterworldbooks.com (9 August 2018)