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How are organisations, big and small, improving their sustainability?

ICE Publishing at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Supplier spotlight
  • Updated: 02 Aug 2022
  • Author: Dr Madhubanti Bhattacharyya

ICE Publishing takes its role as a signatory to the SDG Publishers Compact very seriously. As part of the work we have been doing in order to achieve and maintain sustainable working practices, we have been looking, both internally and externally, at what individual staff members and their teams are doing, but also externally, at supplier practices.  

My previous post looked at unpacking some of the complexities of the vocabulary around this discussion. It also took a quick look at the ways in which ICE Publishing is using recognised accreditations and certifications to hold itself, and its suppliers, accountable regarding achieving and maintaining sustainable working practices in a complex industry encompassing so many complementary and ancillary partners and parts.  

In this post the spotlight is on one of ICE Publishing’s suppliers, a UK-based, family-owned printer that has been in continuous operation for nearly 150 years, and how they have moved with the times. Some of their practices are specific to their particular positioning within the acquisitions, manufacturing, distribution, waste management nexus; others may spark recognition or ideas to take away.  

Standards and accreditations 

ISO 14001: 2015, one of the most well-known and important accreditations which ties into no less than 12 UN Sustainable Development Goals, is the latest version (last reviewed in 2021) of the ISO standard that ICE Publishing’s supplier has held since 2006. This accreditation’s scope includes but is not limited to 

  1. The environment (not just an organisation’s own surroundings, but the air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, as well as humans with which its activities come into contact) 
  2. Environmental aspect (the ways in which an organisation’s activities, products, services interact with the environment), which is heavily linked to, but not the same as  
  3. Environmental impact (changes, both positive and negative, which the organisation causes to its environment) 
  4. Environmental objective, which is required to be consistent with its 
  5. Environmental policy (the formal statement set out by top management), and which includes its intent towards the 
  6. Prevention of pollution (source reduction or elimination, efficient use of resources, substitution with renewable resources, recycling etc.). 

ISO accreditation needs to be reviewed every few years, and this supplier’s current certificate (which ICE Publishing holds a copy of) is valid until February 2024.  

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation provides reassurance that the supplier is aware of, and tracks, the provenance of the trees which have gone into the creation of the paper used in ICE Publishing’s books and journals. FSC-certified paper comes from forests that are being carefully managed in order to preserve biological diversity, while also contributing positively to local communities and workers. The FSC has recently expanded its definition of FSC-certified paper from coming strictly from FSC-certified forests to include a very limited amount of reclaimed material that has been assessed as being at low risk of coming from unacceptable sources, and would otherwise contribute to unnecessary waste.   

FSC certification needs to be renewed every year, and ICE Publishing also holds a copy of this supplier’s current certificate.  

Initiatives big and small – it all adds up! 

  • This supplier operates out of two adjacent factories, both of which have solar panels on their roofs. Together, they generate 70kW of renewable energy, and any surplus from operational requirements is fed back to the National Grid.  
  • LED-based lighting is used throughout, except in the newer building which was completed in 2018 with attention towards making the most use of natural light. Where artificial lighting is required, it is motion-sensor-driven, reducing unnecessary use of electricity.  
  • Strictly vegetable-based inks are used by the supplier, with materials using animal by-products having been shown the door quite some time ago. 
  • Single-use plastics (cups, drink bottles etc.) are banned on site.  
  • Staff who live locally are encouraged to cycle to work, with secure facilities provided on site to keep their 'steeds' safe during the working day. 
  • Local deliveries are carried out using the organisation’s two electric vehicles. For longer-range deliveries, they have teamed up with larger logistics specialists who have their own ambitious environmental policies (as specified by ISO 14001 above) in place, including carbon offsetting, but more crucially, carbon reduction
  • Customers are offered a choice between recyclable and compostable wrapping. The latter is a newer, and therefore more expensive, alternative, but with organisations like the National Trust leading the way, with time this will hopefully change. 

It is very encouraging to see an organisation that has been around for 150 years, operating in an industry that is not traditionally known for its ‘green’ working practices, pivot and change with the times. It suggests that with planning, and intention, individuals as well as organisations of all sizes can truly make a difference.  

Find out more about Sustainable Development Goals in our SDG Resource Centre.