How it works
The three tools that make up the Book Chain Project give production, safety, technical and ethical teams at publishers the information they need to better understand the responsibility of their book supply chains and, ultimately, make better informed buying decisions.
Publishers can choose which tools they access as each one deals with different elements of their book supply chain:
- PREPS makes sense of responsible paper sourcing: Understanding the origins and forest management practices for the wood fibre used in papers and boards.
- PIPS screens for chemical safety: Screening the components used in books - from inks and varnishes to glues and binders – to highlight restrictions and safety measures in international law.
- PRELIMS shares audits for labour and environmental standards: Using a shared approach through a Code of Conduct to articulate the standards publishers expect from their suppliers
PREPS: Making sense of responsible paper sourcing
PREPS helps publishers understand the origins of wood fibre used in the paper that makes their books. Paper manufacturers submit the pulp and tree species used in their products to PREPS, which are assessed using the forest country risk tool – samples of papers originating from high risk or trans-shipment risk countries (see below) are analysed in a lab to verify the tree species used. Each forest source (tree species and country) is graded, and each paper is then awarded an overall grade. Publishers can use this single grade to inform their buying decisions.
Assessing forest risk
We use the Carnstone Country Forest Risk Assessment to determine the likelihood of wood originating from:
- Illegally harvested forests.
- Forests that have a high conservation value.
- Plantations that have recently been converted from natural forest.
It also identifies countries that import significant quantities of timber from high risk countries (i.e. countries where one or more of the issues above is likely). These are known as ‘trans-shipment risks’.
The tool uses publicly available, regularly updated, and well-respected indicators:
- Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index
- The extent of national forest cover as reported by the UN FAO (Food & Agriculture Organisation)
- Change in tree canopy cover recorded by Global Forest Watch
We appreciate there are other risks associated with timber supply chains – such as land rights and labour standards – but these are beyond the scope of the assessment. The tool allows us to be more objective when it comes to judging risk, but doesn’t replace detailed knowledge of the issues.
We appreciate the input and support from various supply chain experts as the tool has developed.
PIPS: Screening for chemical safety
PIPS simplifies how chemical safety information is shared between suppliers and publishers. Component manufacturers and suppliers submit lists of chemical substances directly to the tool, which are screened against international safety legislation. Publishers use PIPS to gauge the volume of chemicals in their books, and flag any concerning substances to replace.
The tool helps publishers to manage their compliance with existing legislation but also stay ahead of new developments and other concerns around chemical product safety.
PRELIMS: Sharing labour and environmental audits
The Book Chain Project shares a publishing industry Code of Conduct for suppliers ensuring that all sites meet their recognised standards for labour and environmental practices.
Suppliers benefit by easily sharing their audit results with multiple publishers, saving them time and money by avoiding duplication.
The Code of Conduct collates standards that are based on existing internationally-recognised Codes and Laws. The Code outlines what the publishers expect from their suppliers, and also the publishers’ commitments to their suppliers.
As well as the Code of Conduct, publishers may also accept other comparable standards through the PRELIMS tool; for example, the ICTI Care Process or SMETA audits against the ETI Base Code.