In June 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the Better World Books website for the company's environmental policy or report. There was information on the website which showed understanding of the company’s environmental impacts. This included a ’Triple Bottom Line’ section on its website which referred to the company’s use of a carbon offset programme which covered emissions associated both with shipping and the company’s other operations and activities which it had done through “Renewable Energy Certificates and verified carbon offsets (namely, wind) to get Better World Books carbon balanced”. The company also stated that “as part of our commitment to environmental sustainability, we never, ever throw away a book. Any book we cannot find a proper home for is recycled.around carbon emissions and landfill waste.”

However, Better World Books did not appear to have an environmental policy or report.
An environmental policy was deemed necessary to report on a company's environmental performance and set targets for reducing its impacts in the future. A strong policy would include two future, quantified environmental targets, demonstration by the company that it had a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, be dated within two years and have its environmental data independently verified.

Better World Books did not sufficiently meet any of these criteria therefore it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Environmental Reporting and lost a whole mark in this category.


Better World Books webpage on environmental reporting (12 July 2021)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed the Better World Books website 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: (9 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the Better World Books website,, 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: (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: (9 August 2018)