Report Finds Sector-Wide Shift as Publishing Industry Embraces Social and Environmental Responsibility

Two major publishing houses – HMH and Macmillan – announce new paper policies

San Francisco, CA – A report released today by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), titled A New Chapter for the Publishing Industry: Putting Promises into Practice, documents an industry-wide transition away from the use of paper sourced from controversial fiber connected with rainforest destruction, human rights abuses and climate pollution.

RAN also welcomes the release of new responsible paper procurement policies by two major publishing companies, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan. The companies’ new public commitments establish them as leaders among their peers.

“Our report finds that major publishers are doing the hard work needed to root out rainforest destruction from their supply chains. This ‘race to the top’ has positive implications for forests and forest-dependent peoples worldwide, ” said Christy Tennery-Spalding, forest campaigner with Rainforest Action Network. “While there have been big changes in the way book publishers do business, there is still an urgent need to reform remaining bad actors, like Indonesia’s reckless logging giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL).”

Today’s report examines the progress the book industry has made in the last four years. Specifically, it identifies areas of leadership and best practices that have emerged and tracks the impact of such practices on Indonesian and other endangered forests.

In the last four years, most major publishers have improved policies and commitments, adopted fiber testing and verification tools and taken action to ensure their policies are implemented. Many publishers have gone beyond their initial commitments, innovating a set of best practices, including outreach with supply chain partners, such as overseas printers.

The report analyzes the progress of leading publishers using three key sources: responses to a survey conducted by Rainforest Action Network in the end of 2013, each company’s paper policy and public statements, and the results of independent fiber testing of 30 books printed in 2013. 

In 2010, Rainforest Action Network alerted the publishing industry to systemic problems in its supply chains, including deforestation, human rights violations, and climate pollution. RAN urged leading book publishers to address problems and help prevent the loss of Indonesian and other endangered forests, by eliminating controversial sources and maximizing responsible fiber in the paper they use.

In late 2012, following a high profile public campaign and many months of negotiations, Disney announced a comprehensive paper policy covering the entirety of its international operations. In early 2013, following the loss of dozens of major corporate customers over its role in destroying Indonesia’s rainforests, pulp and paper giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) announced a sweeping Forest Conservation Policy, which it continues to strengthen and expand upon.