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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)

In July 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the website of World of Books looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change.

As the company sold majority second-hand books it was considered to be a company focused on cutting climate impacts and was only expected to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.

On the World of Books website, it discussed its climate impacts largely in relation to carbon emissions arising from its operations, third party distribution and recycling. It specified that “Climate change is a real and imminent threat to our planet so we are taking action to reduce our carbon footprint” and that “We actively measure and monitor our group carbon footprint, so that we can validate our energy consumption, identify areas for improvement and continually make efficiencies.” The company also stated ways that it had made carbon emission reductions in the past, for example that “We estimate we saved over 1,600 tonnes CO2e through our operations in our 2018 financial year”. It also mentioned that it had sourced all of its “electricity from 100% renewable sources, introducing electric bus services for our people and using warehouse vehicles powered by lithium ion”.

Ethical Consumer viewed World of Books’ ‘Social and Environmental Impact Report 2019/2020’ which stated that the company sought to “Become a carbon neutral business by 2022” and that it would “Develop a roadmap to achieve Net Zero by 2030”. The company defined carbon neutrality as such: “the sum of the greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) produced is offset by natural carbon sinks and/or carbon credits.”
Ethical Consumer was looking for actual emissions reductions rather than offsets. However, World of Books did provide discussion of its key areas of climate impact, and went some way to discuss how it has cut them in the past. In relation to its focus on selling second hand books, the company also stated, "We also understand that creating a product has an impact on the environment, and reusing a book has a positive impact. It uses less energy and fewer resources to reuse than produce and we close the loop so more books can find a new home", and "Our business saves carbon emissions by keeping books in use for longer and recycling them properly."
As it was discussing how its business model of selling second hand would continue to reduce impacts, overall, World of Books received Ethical Consumer’s best rating for carbon management and reporting and did not lose a mark under Climate Change.


World of Books Social and Environmental Impact Report 2019-20 (21 July 2021)

In August 2021, Ethical Consumer searched the World of Books website for the company's policy on the use of vinyl and PVC. At the time of writing the company sold only second hand vinyl products.

Ethical Consumer considered this to be a positive policy addressing a pollution and toxics issue.
This reference is for information only.

Reference: (2 August 2018)