Publishing industry and environmental impact: what are the consequences for nature?

Florencia Di Giovanni

Do you know the real impact of the publishing industry on the planet? Undoubtedly, understanding this impact is essential to see what alternatives can be implemented to reduce it.
To better understand the impact of the publishing industry, we must first look at paper production. To produce one ton of paper, 27,000 liters of water are used, 27 kilograms of carbon dioxide are emitted, and more than four kilowatts of energy are used. It is therefore correct to say that the publishing industry has a strong impact on nature.
Another consideration is that paper cannot be recycled indefinitely. This is because paper fibers are destroyed with use. For this reason, the publishing industry must consider alternatives beyond recycling and implement them as soon as possible.
Although recycling may not be the definitive solution, it is undoubtedly a great help in reducing the industry’s environmental impact. So much so that if we recycled half of the paper we have today, we would not have to cut down 8 million hectares of forests.

What are the benefits of environmentally friendly practices?

Reduce environmental impact

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter saga, greatly reduced the impact her printed books would have on the planet by printing the more than 1 million copies she sold on recycled paper.  

According to Greenpeace, thanks to this initiative, which began in 2003, the felling of 39,320 trees was avoided, 63,435,801 liters of water were saved, and the amount of electricity consumed by a family home for 262 years was conserved. The measure also helped to reduce the mass of urban waste in landfills: for every 700 kg of paper recovered, the equivalent of one car's worth of landfill space is saved.

Lower costs

Like most practices that can be put in place to help the environment, the use of recycled paper also helps the reader's budget. Due to the great savings made in its production, recycled paper has a lower cost than common paper. Today, it is essential that the publishing industry focuses its resources on the transformation it must undergo to satisfy its readers’ new consumption habits.

Reach new audiences

The third benefit that the publishing industry acquires by implementing environmentally friendly practices is reflected in the possibility of reaching a new audience.  According to INMA, the overlap between paper and digital consumption is only 3%, so digital publishing would completely reduce the impact and costs of both printing and distribution and reach a new audience and, thus, increase sales.

To reach these new audiences, it is essential that the content offered to be of quality. Besides, a different reading experience must be provided and, above all, the opportunity to subscribe to a catalog must be offered. The high consumption rates of platforms such as Netflix and Spotify demonstrate a strong trend towards subscription.

Implementing practices that reduce the publishing industry’s impact is fundamental to contributing to our planet’s care. Why wait to start?