Sustainable business practice
Investing in paperless technology

Pearson is very keen to have company-wide involvement in making our business more sustainable. For now, our attention is focused on the direct impact we have on the world around us, but as you've read in the previous sections, we seek to heavily influence the indirect impact too, something we’ve been doing more and more over the past few years. We know that it'll be the little things, like double-sided printing at the office, plus the big things, like using sustainable paper sources, that'll help us become a truly climate neutral company. As we use suppliers to make and transport our books, magazines and newspapers, our primary impact is through the carbon emissions from our buildings and business travel; but our most obvious environmental impact is through our use of paper. We're therefore trying hard to use substantially less of it and making sure that we are using the 'kindest' possible paper types wherever we can. As the world’s largest book publisher, we believe that the printed book will be around for a long time. At the same time, we're seeing growing demand in alternative digital formats so we’re working hard to provide and promote our content in a range of formats.

Activity summary

We’ve made more of our products and services available in paperless form for readers, educators and students. We have created new ways to access and use our content, actively promoting a huge range of titles in audio format and some 8,500 titles in eBook form at at Penguin, a host of online learning tools and products at Pearson Education, and a fully interactive site in, now available on digital readers and mobile internet devices.

We are tracking and measuring our in-house work towards a paperless pre-press environment – our efforts include cutting the number of printer proofs, transmitting files electronically, using online editing and proofing for both publisher and author, and increasing digital workflow practices.

We first launched our eBooks back in 2001, but in 2008, we began to release our new eBooks at the same time as our new print editions, enabling our readers to choose to access a range of new releases in the digital format.

Snapshots The online news service offers registered users access to a vast array of articles, multimedia content and discussion forums at excellent value: even unregistered users are now able to access up to three articles every 30 days for free.
ebook reader

eBooks for eReaders To coincide with the launch of mobile digital reading devices, we made a total of 2,500 Penguin Group titles available as eBooks, including 1,500 bestsellers and 1,000 from Dorling Kindersley by the end of 2008.

Rio Salado College This community college, catering to working adults in Tempe, Arizona, formed an unprecedented and exclusive partnership with Pearson Custom Publishing to create course materials tailor-made for Rio Salado's specific classes and to help students save an average of 52% over traditional books.

Focus on: PAPER

Paper in the basic material upon which many of our businesses depend: we’ve identified its use as a key area of environmental impact for the company. We first implemented our official paper policy in June 2004 as one of the commitments we made following our signing of the UN Global Compact, and we’ve engaged in a number of ways to cut our paper use, source our supplies as responsibly as we can, and put something back to replace what we use.

The Penguin Group has chosen to source paper with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paper certification where possible, meaning the paper must come from legal sources, must not come from an area of high conservation value and must not contain genetically modified material. The FSC Chain of Custody tracks timber from the forest to the final product, so that there is full traceability. Our use of FSC certified papers is increasing, but only a small percentage of the world’s forests are currently covered by any certification scheme, and only 8% of the world’s production forests are FSC certified. It is important that we use our buying power to use FSC papers where possible, as this makes it clear to the market that there is a demand for forest products that come from certified well managed sources.

By moving to using papers made from groundwood (the whole tree, not just selected parts of it), Pearson Education has been able to reduce the wood it uses by 26,000 tons, the equivalent of 450,000 trees. The initiative helped to save $4million.

We have purchased digital reading devices for Penguin’s sales force (US) and editorial and marketing staff (Australia, US and UK) to reduce paper use, such as Sony Readers and Amazon Kindles

Penguin Classics is supporting the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign in the US with major marketing, publicity, and in-store promotions that increase public awareness and participation. The programme has already planted 1.4 million trees in Brazil, and every dollar donated to the conservancy will put another tree in the ground.

Many offices across Pearson now configure their network printers to double-sided printing as a default setting, helping to reduce office paper consumption, while many others now use recycled copy paper and are seeking to use fewer personal and more group printers.

Penguin and the Woodland Trust are creating a new wood, Penguin Wood, in a national forest in the Midlands, England. Nearly 400 members of staff at Penguin UK went on a charity walk in aid of the Woodland Trust ‘Trees for Schools’ campaign, raising £25,000 for the trust.


In 2008, Pearson and Penguin Canada were recognised for their paper choices with a Sustainability Award from Atlantic Packaging, acknowledging that their choices saved 10,389 mature trees in 2008, the equivalent of five American Football fields. Over 60% of Pearson Japan (Kirihara)'s material is now printed on recycled paper, and soy bean ink has been used in some of the business' publications since 2001.

A few words from… Rich Glicini

"Although Pearson is focused on reducing the company's harmful impact on the environment, we also find that our environmental initiatives almost always yield cost savings that further align our long-term goals with those of our stakeholders. For instance, our recent investments in high-definition video conferencing and online virtual meeting tools will reduce our carbon footprint while at the same time decreasing our business travel expenses. In addition to these benefits, we believe providing these meeting alternatives makes our people more productive and supports them in their quest for balance between their professional and personal lives.

We don't see a conflict between being a profitable business and being a good corporate citizen. Taking concrete steps to streamline and strengthen our operations while also reducing our environmental footprint is exactly the sort of win-win situation we like to pursue."

Rich Glicini

Rich Glicini Senior vice president, human resources, Pearson Inc. and environmental director, US