In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the Awesome Books website for the company's environmental policy or report. The ‘Our Purpose’ webpage stated that Awesome Books was “committed to preserving the environment for current and future generations, and operate in a way that treats our planet with respect.” It also stated that the company’s emphasis on selling second hand books (alongside new ones) “means hundreds of thousands of items get a second chance instead of ending up in landfills”. On the ‘About Us’ webpage, the company referred to the company’s efforts to reduce waste going to landfill. It stated that it processed over 250,000 books every day, with nothing going to waste. “Books are either re-sold, donated via our literacy programs or pulped and turned into something new.”

The company also stated that “We have set-up collection banks with many councils around the country for books that people no longer want. And we have also launched ‘Sellitback.com’, our website and app, which enables members of the public to send us books directly and get paid for them.” The company reported that it had “recycled over 132 million books – the equivalent to a million trees – to be made into new products, working with specialist recycling partners.”

However, the company did not provide an explicit policy or report around its environmental impacts. 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.

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

Reference:

AwesomeBooks Our Purpose webpage (26 July 2021)

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

1. For the company 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. For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding its climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.
2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and,
3. to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).
4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.
If a company met all of these criteria it would receive a best rating. If it met parts 1&2 (impacts and annual reporting CO2e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.

1. On the ‘Our Purpose’ section of the company’s website, the company acknowledged the carbon footprint that books have but did not mention the company's other climate impacts. The company did not provide evidence of how it had cut its emissions in the past. However, AwesomeBooks reported that it had “met our original pledge of reducing our own carbon footprint by 30% per book sold by 2020” and that it had “introduced carbon reporting to actively monitor our consumption of energy and water, as well as our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and waste.” There was no baseline year for the statistic. The company also mentioned that it had plans to cut its future carbon emissions in that it “pledged to be carbon neutral by 2022” though no details for how it would do this were provided.

2 &3. Awesome Books did not provide any documentation or reporting related to its scope 1, 2 or 3 emissions.

4. The company stated that it aimed to be carbon neutral by 2022 but did not provide any indication as to how it would achieve this or if this included offsets as part of the target.

Overall, whilst the company had a pledge to be carbon neutral, it did not sufficiently acknowledge its climate-related impacts nor discuss in sufficient detail the plausible ways it had cut or will cut its carbon emissions. Awesome Books did not meet point 2 or 3 of the criteria, and failed to state if its future carbon neutral target depended on offsets.

Therefore, Awesome Books received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a full mark under Climate Change.

Reference:

AwesomeBooks Our Purpose webpage (26 July 2021)