2017's extremely popular BBC Blue Planet II TV programme and book brought the amount of plastic waste we generate as a country to light. As a result, it has sparked a very important national conversation about how we can all use less plastic and better protect our planet.
Here at Book People, we were all moved by David Attenborough's final speech on the programme and the call to do more to reduce our reliance on plastics and we know this is an important issue for many of our customers.
This is why we are exploring a variety of ways that we reduce our use of plastic as a business and are constantly looking at new plastic-reduction initiatives, from how we mail our catalogue to how we package and send out our products to you, our customers.
How We Print Our Catalogues
Book People send out a number of catalogues - including our monthly consumer catalogue and a variety of catalogues for education providers throughout the school year.
In April 2018, we stopped printing our schools catalogue covers using matt laminate, which means all our catalogues are now fully recyclable and printed on paper from a sustainable source. You'll find the recyclable logo on the back of every Book People catalogue.
How We Mail Our Catalogues
In the last year, we have significantly reduced the use of plastic wrap used when mailing our school catalogues, which are sent out to nurseries, primary and secondary schools across the UK and Ireland.
Almost all of our school catalogues are now sent 'naked mailed' which means without any wrap or envelope on them at all. The only exception is when we need to include additional resources within the catalogue that are at risk of falling out or damage.
So far, this has been an effective means of reducing our plastic usage and we will continue to send out our schools catalogues in this way.
Trialling Envelope Mailing
Due to the weight of our consumer catalogue, and the inserts included, we are unable to send these 'naked mailed' and so they are currently sent in poly wrap.
Whilst the polywrap we use is recyclable either through your local recycling collection service (if they collect plastic film and carrier bags) or at the collection points of most supermarket's larger stores, we recognise that we need to look for sustainable alternatives.
In 2018, we began trialling new methods for sending out our consumer catalogues in paper envelopes.
Our aim is to roll an alternative out to our full customer list but, as with any significant business change, we need to ensure we take a considered approach and that the majority of our customers continue to engage with the catalogues we send.
The first phase of the trial has now come to an end and we are analysing the data and looking to conduct a second phase of the trial in early 2019.
How We Package Our Books
Shrink wrapping book sets is the current industry standard to ensure books are not damaged during shipping, picking, packing or when in transit, and to reduce the amount that are returned and pulped.
Due to the various stages your books go through from printing through to delivery, removing this packaging entirely is not possible. However, shrink wrap plastic waste is an industry-wide problem that publishers are presently working on resolving.
We are in discussions with our publishing contacts to find alternative means of binding books that will be just as effective as shrink-wrap, with less harm to the environment. When these alternatives become available, we will introduce them into our business.
We're Always Looking for Ways to Reduce Plastic
Book People are committed to continuing our efforts to reduce our plastic waste. The feedback from our customers is very important to us and as discussions surrounding plastic waste continue, we aim to continue to be a part of reducing the use of plastic in the publishing and book retail industries now, and in the future.