In July 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Better World Books website looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change.
The company had a turnover below £10.2m and was considered to be providing a lower carbon alternative as it focused on selling second hand books- “Better World Books brings new life to used books ensuring each book continues to make an impact. As part of our commitment to environmental sustainability, we never, ever throw away a book”. As a result, it received a middle rating. It could receive a best rating if it explicitly discussed ways it reduced its climate impacts.
Better World Books mentioned on its webpage, ‘Triple Bottom Line’, information regarding its key climate-related impacts, including “emissions generated when books were shipped to our customers” and those that cover “emissions associated both with shipping and our company’s other operations and activities.” The company stated that it carried out audits of its emissions to calculate its total carbon footprint and that it was taking steps to balance its carbon emissions from the company’s activities but it did not state how it would do this and therefore this was not deemed an adequate policy.
Ethical Consumer also found an article on the company website, dated 2016, which stated :“Better World Books supports green power and carbon reduction through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs) and carbon offsets to help improve our environmental footprint. We will use funds from fiscal year 2014 to support the McKinney Landfill Gas Destruction and Utilization project for carbon offsets and the RECs will support the Wind Power project from the Prairie Breeze facility in Nebraska.” These were examples of offsetting rather than actual reductions which Ethical Consumer did not considered to be adequate.
Overall, Better World Books did not provide sufficient or up-to-date evidence as to how it would reduce its climate impacts. However, as the company was providing a lower carbon alternative by focusing on second hand books, it received a middle rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a half mark under Climate Change.