France’s Hachette Livre: A 30-Percent Carbon Reduction by 2030

In News by Porter Anderson

Intending to use 100-percent renewable energy by 2026, Hachette Livre turns to reducing overproduction, freight, and more.

Les Mées Solar Park on Puimichel Plateau in southeastern France’s Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The installation of solar panels is part of Hachette Livre’s ’30/30′ carbon-emission reduction plan. Image – Getty iStockphoto: BTW Images

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Cutting Book Shredding by 30 Percent
During our winter publication break, France’s Hachette Livre announced a “30/30 strategy” to reach a 30-percent reduction in its international carbon emissions by 2030.

The company’s approach addresses all three “scopes” (more on this in a moment) and is aligned with parent company Lagardère Group‘s decarbonization strategy, which the corporation says it has based on the so-called “Science Based Targets Initiative” (SBTi). The Hachette plan, according to media messaging, has been developed in consultation with Carbone 4 to impact four key operational areas: overproduction, paper, manufacturing, and transportation.

“With support from Carbone 4 in France since 2009,” the company says in its announcement, “Hachette Livre has completed the in-depth assessments necessary to precisely identify the sources of its greenhouse gas emissions and develop a concrete action plan for reducing the carbon footprint of all of its  businesses in France and worldwide.

“The ’30/30 Strategy’ is a group-wide commitment to which each country must contribute while taking the specifics of its business into consideration.”

In that statement, there’s an important point to be noted about the efforts of the world’s largest publishing companies in undertaking environmental-issue responses. Hachette Livre, while thought of by many for its dominance of the French market, is also the No. 2 publishing concern in the United Kingdom, No. 3 in Spain, and No. 4 in the United States. The company’s work spans at least 12 languages and 200 imprints, the aggregate output coming to something approaching 16,000 titles annually. Initiatives in Earth-friendly operations, therefore, can involve coordination across countries and continents for these big houses, and the kind of runway that Hachette has had by starting in 2009 just to measure its Scope 3 emissions.

Attaining the new goal of a 30-percent reduction by 2030 comes out to a reduction of 2.5 percent each year. A “biodiversity” plan is in place, as well, to reduce plastic usage.

The Plan’s Four Key Targets

A wind turbine at Le Pouzin, October 2, 2022. Hachette Livre has committed to making the shift to 100-percent renewable energy by 2026. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Daniel Bartus

Hachette Livre reports that in its 12 years of earlier action, it has reduced its French emissions by 20 percent. The company says it was France’s first publisher to measure and reduce its carbon footprint in all three scopes. The newly announced program is based primarily in four essential elements of the company’s work: overproduction, paper, manufacturing, and freight.

The “scope” terminology refers to a set of categorizations of greenhouse gas emissions used across international industries as they work to limit planetary temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius—with a topline goal of hitting an increase limit of 1.5 Celsius at the very least.

In essence:

  • Scope 1 covers fuel combustion, company vehicles, “fugitive” emissions
  • Scope 2 covers purchased electricity, heat, and steam
  • Scope 3 covers purchased goods and services, business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, use of sold products, transportation and distribution (both up- and downstream), investments, and leased assets and franchises

Hachette’s estimates indicate that only 3 percent of the group’s total emissions in Scopes 1 and 2. Here, the company expects to create “a new policy for its fleet of vehicles”; swap heating oil and gas for electricity or biomass; install solar panels; provide environmentally friendly habit training for employees; put into place energy-use optimization systems. The company also says it intends to shift to 100-percent renewable energy by 2026.

Because of the nature of the work of publishing, they see 97 percent of the group’s total emissions in Scope 3. There are several specifics and anticipated approaches here.

Overproduction

  • A 30-percent reduction in books shredded means lowering returns and stock in 2030 over the company’s 2019 levels
  • Tools are to be developed to “optimize stock visibility throughout the value chain”
  • Data is to be used to allow publishers and sales teams to optimize their print runs and reduce returns

Paper

  • A 26-percent reduction is called for in “carbon intensity” in the manufacture of paper
  • By comparison to 2019 levels, the company says it’s committed to “ramping up environmental criteria for selecting paper suppliers in invitations to tinder bids
  • There’s also a plan to favor paper makers with the lowest emissions and establish annual “carbon intensity” targets

Manufacturing

  • The goal here is an 18-percent reduction in “carbon intensity” in book printing and binding over 2019 levels
  • In this case, most initiatives are expected to take hold in 2025
  • The commitment here is to “ramp up environmental criteria for printers and binders”
  • The company also will favor printers and binders with the lowest emissions and set annual “carbon intensity” targets

Freight

  •  One goal of two here is a 1-percent annual reduction in upstream freight between 2023 and 2030
  • The other goal is a 1.5-percent annual reduction in downstream freight between 2023 and 2030
  • “This goal could be amplified,” the company states, through “structural changes aimed at replacing air freight with maritime or road freight.”
  • The group plans to challenge suppliers to optimize deliveries
  • It expects to reduce product volumes; identify products that can be produced locally; include environmental performance criteria in calls for proposals; and consolidate international deliveries

More from Publishing Perspectives on the climate crisis is here, more on sustainability is here, more on Hachette Livre is here, and more on the French publishing market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.