In 2009, John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan Publishers, read Ray Anderson’s ground-breaking book, ‘Confessions of a Radical Industrialist’ and resolved to make sustainability a core part of the corporate mission of the global trade publishing company. Sargent took the principles of the book and instigated an in depth review and analysis for Macmillan to build a business model which incorporated sustainability. And this is just what they have achieved: taking a profitable business and making it more profitable but with an integrated view of their impact on the environment. By working with The CarbonNeutral Company, Macmillan has helped to finance unique sustainability projects around the globe.

Corporate sustainability at Macmillan – driving reductions for maximum impact

Macmillan chose to focus on CO2 emissions as the most pressing issue, with a goal of a 65 percent reduction in its carbon footprint by 2020. An employee led task force was established to review areas in the business and make ongoing recommendations on how to meet the target.Through disassembling their processes and looking for ways to reduce emissions every step of the way, Macmillan was able to:

  • Review and rank paper mills by the most volatile drivers of harvest, production, and transport in terms of a mill’s scope 1 & 2 emissions together with other factors such as sustainable forestry practices. They now purchase nearly 60% of their paper from mills that run largely on hydropower or renewable sources.
  • Review the distribution model for its goods,including converting their 150 leased car fleet to hybrid cars which reduced the emissions from their fleet by 40%.
  • Conduct a detailed analysis of their office and distribution facilities’ energy use and install energy efficient motion censored lighting, plus set up comprehensive recycling for the packaging of their goods at their facilities.Macmillan’s sustainability effort now covers every aspect of their business.

Working with The CarbonNeutral Company

Macmillan chose to partner with The CarbonNeutral Company in 2011 to develop its positive environmental impact and its CO2 mitigation efforts.

Mark LaCroix, Executive Vice President,The CarbonNeutral Company commented, “We were asked to work with Macmillan to create a custom carbon reduction portfolio to support the core values of the company and build on the existing program. The business is interested in helping to build sustainable forests and we worked with them to pick projects which not only generate carbon emissions reductions but also support the essence and values of the company. Macmillan was able to compensate for their unavoidable emissions by investing in sustainability projects around the world which otherwise would not happen.”

Bill Barry, a Sustainability Consultant for Macmillan said, “We chose to work with The CarbonNeutral Company because of its positive reputation and its investment in quality assurance. They met our requirements to deliver certified projects with a strong social value. All the supported projects are recognised to international standards to ensure the integrity of the carbon reductions. We look forward to our continued partnership.”

Macmillan supports projects around the world as well as close to home: The Seneca Meadows (NY) Landfill gas project, captures and destroys methane from landfill gas (LFG) emitted by the 178 acre expansion to the Seneca Meadows landfill site and generates electricity to power 18,000 homes on the north east coast of America.

In addition it has created almost 420 acres of new wetlands and enhanced 160 acres of existing wetlands.As well as enabling Macmillan to reduce its carbon emissions through the purchase of carbon offset credits, the project has a direct link with the company - trash from Macmillan’s New York City offices goes to the site and is used to generate the power.

Tackling the wider problem and setting a long range plan

Macmillan realises that fixing their own emissions is only one step, and for a truly sustainable approach to business it’s important to collaborate with peers throughout the industry. The company is working through the American Association of Publishers to explore the potential adoption of new printing standards. They are committed to supporting the complex problem of climate change and are working to set an industry benchmark and drive global business change. Bill Barry said, “It is about more than just taking care of the environment. It is about being a catalyst for change, to shape the publishing landscape and set a benchmark for other publishing companies to learn and to build their own sustainability programs.”

“All the projects are recognised to international standards to ensure the integrity of the carbon reductions.”

Bill Barry, Macmillan