In June 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the World of Books website for the company's environmental policy. World of Books emphasised its mission to sell only second-hand books and that “protecting the planet is part of our purpose”. On the ‘Good for the Planet’ web page, it stated that “Last year, we recycled 61.7 million books - the equivalent to half a million trees - to be made into new products, working with specialist recycling partners.”
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.
The website had an Impact Report dated within 2 years (31 October 2019). This report showed reasonable understanding of the company’s main environmental impacts by linking the transport use in its operations to its net total carbon emissions. The report also stated that World of Books “are aware that our day-to-day operations have a number of negative environmental impacts which we are committed to measuring and reducing as far as possible”. The report also mentioned that the company had refurbished its offices to reduce energy and water waste, as well as improving the environmental impact of the packaging used in its operations.
Although Ethical Consumer was looking for impact reductions rather than offsetting, it was noted that the report stated that World of Books was “considering introducing carbon offsetting in order to further drive down our carbon footprint, with an aspiration to be carbon net neutral by 2021”. The company “pledged to reduce our operational carbon footprint by 30% by 2020 (based on 2017 base line)”.
Overall, the company showed some understanding of its impacts, and had a strong policy that included two future, quantified environmental targets but did not have its environmental data independently verified.
World of Books therefore received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Environmental Reporting and lost half a mark in this category.
World of Books Social and Environmental Impact Report 2019-20 (21 July 2021)