Sustainability: Taylor & Francis Opts for Paper Wrapping in the UK

In News by Porter Anderson

Beginning with the UK, SDG Publishers Compact signatory Taylor & Francis is rolling out paper-wrapped journal shipments.

Near Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island in Canada’s British Columbia, logging on McLure Main Road. The paper that Taylor & Francis is using for its wrapping instead of plastic is either FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC certified (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Image, July 3, 2022 – Getty iStockphoto: Dave Hutchinson Photography

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

Taylor & Francis: Signatory to the SDG Publishers Compact
In an announcement issued to the news media this morning (July 12) Taylor & Francis has announced that it is “reducing unnecessary plastic use with the introduction of ‘paperwrap'” for print copies of journals mailed in the United Kingdom.

This is one element, of course, being examined closely in many parts of the world book publishing industry, as it researches best practices and options for reducing the book business’ overall carbon footprint amid the international climate emergency.

The scholarly publisher, operating one of the largest portfolios in international humanities and social sciences content, has an employee base of some 2,650 people in 17 countries. Overall publication (including the Routledge and F1000 imprints) comes to as many as 2,700 journals and some 8,000 books. The company maintains partnerships with more than 700 scholarly societies.

The company today is using the phrase paperwrap—a term apparently not yet caught up with by dictionary makers—to refer to “a relatively new packaging technology [which] has become more common in recent years, but is typically most suited to publications with very high print runs.”

Taylor & Francis, it should be noted, is one of the roughly 300 publishing companies that so far have become signatories to the United Nations’ and International Publishers Association‘s (IPA) STD Publishers Compact in which publishers—large and small, trade and scholarly—are committing to following and reporting their progress on sustainable practices. You can read Taylor & Francis’ statement of commitment to the pact here.

Taylor & Francis’ international supplier employees spent several months investigating how to apply this paper wrapping capacity to journal print runs. This included rolling out live-trial mailings to various parts of the world to determine how the company’s journals could be packaged, and whether there was any impact on the speed of mailing or damage to a journal in transit.

Unlike paper envelopes—which can often be torn in transit—”paperwrapped” journals consistently reached their intended recipients, Taylor & Francis reports, “with little or no damage.”

The approach also enabled the insertion of additional materials, the company says, including flyers, while remaining compliant with international shipping standards.

In an effort to enhance the approach’s viability in terms of environmental impact, the paper wrapping used is either FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC certified (Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification), meaning that the paper either comes from responsibly managed FSC-certified forests or is made from at least 70-percent wood that meets or exceeds the PEFC “sustainability benchmark requirements.”

For now, Taylor & Francis’ readout says, “will now replace all other packaging for almost all United Kingdom journal mailings, eradicating plastic use, with other international regions soon to follow.”

Rebecca Yorke

Rebecca Yorke is the director of the Brontë Society and Brontë Parsonage Museum. That organization’s journal Brontë Studies was involved in the test mailings.

In a prepared statement, Yorke is quoted, saying, “We are committed to reducing our environmental impact at the Brontë Society” making it a good fit “that Brontë Studies was chosen for the ‘paperwrap’ trial.

“Posting journals using responsibly-sourced paper packaging is the perfect replacement for plastic.” She supports, she says, the news that Taylor & Francis will now expand its use of paper wrapping.

And Stewart Gardiner, Taylor & Francis’ international production director, is quoted in today’s announcement, saying, “According to the United Nations’ Environment Program, it’s estimated that 75 to 199 million tons of plastic can currently be found in our oceans.

“Shrink-wrap, the type of plastic used in mailings,” Gardiner says, “is one of the single-use plastics which contribute to this waste entering our ecosystems.”

Taylor & Francis sees the current moment, he says, as “the milestone of eliminating plastic from journal mailings, making a significant reduction to our environmental impact.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on sustainability is here, more on the SDG Publishers Compact is here, the International Publishers Association is here, and more on the international climate crisis is here. More on academic and scholarly publishing is here, and more on journal publishing is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

Porter Anderson 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 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.