Creating a green supply chain

The most significant changes in the book industry can be made to help organisations lower their carbon footprints and become greener through the supply chain. Our promise is to commit to championing the green agenda and to provide organisations with the tools and resources to help them make their supply chains greener and more sustainable.

Our Green Supply Chain Committee has also signed off on its Green Supply Chain Work plan. This Work Plan has been created in line with BIC’s Green Promise and Agenda, and uses the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals as its framework.

Projects and best practices

Within our ongoing green agenda, the best practices and standards we provide help organisations navigate the most effective way to implement real and impactful changes to all the above areas such as (for example):

Metadata Capabilities Directory (MCD)

BIC’s Metadata Capabilities Directory (MCD), a new platform powered by BIC members, enabling participants to share information with each other about their own use of metadata within the supply chain. The MCD has been created as part of BIC’s Metadata Map project. Metadata underpins our digital age. It drives discoverability and sales, and therefore demands careful attention in terms of its initial creation, dissemination and ongoing maintenance. Better use of metadata is critical to a more efficient and consequently greener supply chain as it can help minimise returns ensuring correct deliveries whilst enhancing targeted discoverability and sales of product.

BIC’s Industry Returns Initiative (IRI)

BIC’s Industry Returns Initiative (IRI) offers a solution to taking much of the cost out of managing returns. This is a critical area where the book industry can be greener by minimising returns and the operational effort involved. BIC’s IRI Rulebook was reviewed and refreshed in June 2022. Find out more in the Industry Returns Initiative section.

BIC Realtime

BIC Realtime is a system that helps with reducing miscommunication, getting orders right the first time, enabling efficient order cancellations (reducing returns), and eliminating waste all of which helps to minimise an organisation’s carbon footprint. It establishes a set of standard messages to enable computers to communicate with each other via the internet in real time requesting product information and receiving an immediate response. For more information, see our BIC Realtime page.

Training and events

BIC runs industry recognised production training courses which highlight and encourage greener practices and help with the elimination of wasteful and carbon heavy methods by championing more sustainable solutions.

Seminars / webinars

We hold an annual seminar / webinar to take a deeper look at building more efficient, greener businesses with industry experts. Our 2023 event was held just last week at the London Book Fair, where we focused on an overview and update on our Designed for Recycling Project, aiming to establish what can be done differently with regards to the creation of books, and to recommend how best to progress to a situation where every book is automatically and always designed with recycling in mind.

Previous webinars have taken attendees on a journey through the environmental life cycle of a book from creation to consumer.

Some of the topic areas have included questions around:

  • Improving discoverability and tradability is good for business, but is it necessarily good for the environment?
  • What is the size of our industry’s carbon footprint and its consumption of plastic?
  • How can organisations increase their sustainability whilst reducing their overall environmental impact?
  • What does the future hold?

Previous webinars can be viewed on our YouTube channel.


Back in 2020 we launched BIC Green Brunches to explore key areas of the book supply chain that can and do impact on our planet’s environmental health. Each Brunch is dedicated to one key area and the series as a whole is intended to join the book industry supply chain together in one place – exploring and inspiring change in response to environmental challenges.

Our initial Brunch series are available to view on the BIC YouTube channel and any future events can be found in our calendar and highlighted in our newsletter. You can sign-up if you’re not already on the list.

BIC will continue to align with other UK book industry trade organisations and initiatives to ensure progress at a fast but compatible pace.


The Green Book Alliance

BIC, BISG, and BookNet Canada have joined forces to create the Green Book Alliance (GBA) which will see information sharing, joint planning, environmental events, and other initiatives.

Discussions have identified several opportunities to collaborate, including:

  • Collecting and sharing best practice information, with links to any applicable standards
  • Publishing environmental news of relevance to the book industry
  • Conducting environmental research, with an opportunity to align studies
  • Offering a central resource for environmental information and ideas
  • Hosting global green book supply chain events
  • Developing an annual Green Global Supply Chain award
  • Testing the idea of a Global Green Book Supply Chain accreditation, with work required to establish how it might complement ISO14001
  • Collaborating to develop a united green programme of work

For more information, see the Green Book Alliance website.

Printer-Publisher Sustainability Checklist

After lengthy consultations with publishers and printers in Canada, the UK and the US, we are happy to make our Printer-Publisher Sustainability Checklist available. The checklist aims to help foster discussions between publishers and printers around environmental sustainability in manufacturing books.

Green Supply Chain Journeys – conversations with BIC stakeholders

Along with our Green Book Alliance partners, Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and BookNet Canada, BIC is engaged with companies across the industry about sustainable practices and how different organisations think about greening the supply chain. This initiative features a series of interviews with supply chain suppliers and their steps to reduce the impact on the environment. They include:

Martin Klopstock, Digital and Operations Director at Kogan Page
Vicky Ellis, Sales Director at Clays
Michelle Petty, Managing Director at Ulverscroft
Catherine Hodgson, Sustainability Manager at Taylor & Francis

Sustainability Industry Forum (SIF)

BIC is proud to be a member of SIF collaborating with other leading trade associations for publishing and bookselling on the sustainability agenda for the industry. Read the press release for more information.

For more information on all of our green work, visit our Green Hub.


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