The Book Chain Project started life as three separate tools: PREPS tackles responsible paper sourcing, PIPS addresses chemical product safety, and PRELIMS looks at supplier labour and environmental standards. In September 2016 these three tools were brought together online into a single database and under the banner of the Book Chain Project. Each of the tools evolved over time in response to a growing desire to better understand book supply chains. PRELIMS came together in 2003, PREPS in 2006, and PIPS in 2010.
PRELIMS: A shared assessment of labour and environmental standards
PRELIMS was first established as an informal working group in 2003. The publishers in the group wanted to explore if they, as an industry, could agree on a common social accountability standard in line with the UN Global Compact on the Responsibilities of Business.
There was plenty of confusion at the time – retailers and distributors demanded that suppliers conform to a range of social accountability codes, and publishers were similarly being asked whether their suppliers met these differing standards. This extra burden fell on to the suppliers.
After much analysis the PRELIMS publishers agreed that, firstly, most of the existing standards shared the same fundamental principles; and, secondly, it was not fair to ask suppliers to commission multiple audits against largely similar standards.
To cut through the confusion they decided to do two things:
- Agree on a single standard to apply to all suppliers; and
- Share audit information with one another so that suppliers who served multiple publishers would not need to commission more than one audit.
PRELIMS publishers used the ICTI Care Process as a common standard until July 2010. After this date PRELIMS worked with Carnstone to draft and implement their own Code of Conduct tailored to the publishers’ global supplier supply base. The Code of Conduct was introduced as a pilot in India in May 2011, and now applies to the full range of suppliers supplying the PRELIMS publishers.
PREPS: Collaborating on responsibly sourced paper
Before PREPS was created in 2006 publishers were independently working on responsible paper sourcing. This included Egmont UK who had worked with Carnstone to develop a process of assessing the forest sources of their papers. Egmont then approached a wider group of publishers to invite them to share their process, known as the Egmont Grading System. The founding project participants were Egmont, Imago, Walker, Usborne, Hachette, Pearson, Reed Elsevier (now RELX Group), Penguin (now Penguin Random House), Sage, and HarperCollins. Since then the number of publishers involved has grown to 25.
In 2013 we significantly overhauled the way PREPS graded forest sources and paper brands to adapt to changing best practice in paper supply chains. This new system was developed by Carnstone for the PREPS project and is known as the PREPS Grading System.
We would like to thank Egmont for the use of the Egmont Grading System, and Alison Kennedy in particular, for her vision and tireless efforts to bring the publishing community together on this important issue.
PIPS: A shared platform to monitor chemical product safety
PIPS formed in 2010 in response to changing chemical safety legislation in the EU, namely REACH and the Toy Safety Directive (TSD). The regulations placed more stringent reporting requirements on companies and closely controlled the chemicals that could be used in products. The PIPS tool captured the full list of chemical substances used in a book’s components (glues, inks, varnishes etc), and screened them against chemical safety legislation from around the world.
Find out more about how each element of the Book Chain Project works in practice.