We have been building better supply chains for books since 2006. A collaborative project run by Carnstone, we involve 28 leading book and journal publishers, over 500 print suppliers, and more than 400 paper manufacturers.
What started life as three separate projects – PREPS, PIPS and PRELIMS - became a single application in 2016, called the Book Chain Project. Our tools help publishers make informed buying decisions.
In 2006 Carnstone worked closely with children’s publisher, Egmont UK, to develop a process of assessing forest sources used to make paper, known as the Egmont Grading System. Egmont approached a wider group of publishers, inviting them to share the process and the forest data. The founding publishers of this Publishers’ database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing (PREPS) tool were Egmont, Imago, Walker, Usborne, Hachette, Pearson, Reed Elsevier (now RELX Group), Penguin (now Penguin Random House), Sage and HarperCollins.
In 2013 Carnstone significantly updated the grading system, adapting to a changing landscape and good practice in responsible paper sourcing. This new system was re-named the PREPS Grading System.
We would like to thank Egmont for use of the Egmont Grading System, and specifically Alison Kennedy for her vision and tireless efforts to bring the publishing community together on this important challenge.
While the grading system remains the core of the Forest Sourcing workstream, we have since expanded our work to cover other environmental and social issues in the paper making value chain.
Chemicals & Materials
Publishers worked together on a shared application again in 2010, responding to changes in European Union chemical safety legislation. This application was the Publishers’ Information on Product Safety (PIPS) tool. REACH and the Toy Safety Directive were the driving forces, introducing stricter company reporting requirements, and closely controlling chemicals used.
PIPS (now the Chemicals & Materials tool) collects full chemical lists used in book components including ink, varnish, and adhesives. The results are screened against chemical safety legislation in different jurisdictions.
In 2018, we started exploring material choices through our Plastics Guide for the Publishing Industry. Since then, we have expanded this work into broader design for sustainability, creating a Design Guide covering various materials and processes and integrating that information into the online system.
Labour & Environment
In 2003, a working group of publishers – later named ‘PRELIMS’ – met as an informal network to explore how they could agree on a standard of social accountability, acknowledging the UN Global Compact on the Responsibilities of Business.
It was a confusing time, with retailers and distributors demanding different social accountability standards. The burden of cost and time to meet these different requirements often fell to print suppliers, paying for multiple audits at the request of different customers against different standards. But on closer inspection the group found the standards were not so different, and at their core they shared the same fundamental principles. So, they decided to do two things:
- Agree on a single standard for all suppliers.
- Share audit information so that suppliers who served more than one publisher could use the same audit results for everyone.
The ICTI Care Process was used as a common standard until July 2010, when it was superseded by a new Code of Conduct tailored for a global publishing supply chain. The new Code was introduced as a pilot in India in May 2011 and now applies to all suppliers in the system.
The PRELIMS group came under Carnstone’s stewardship, then in 2016 one part of the Book Chain Project. Since then, our work has expanded to cover environmental and social performance at supplier sites, and collaborate on specific issues including social insurance, Health and Safety, and responsible recruitment. Nevertheless, the Code of Conduct and audit sharing system – albeit much developed from it’s initial iteration – has remained at our core.