Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Publisher rejects paper made from ancient forests

Random House has committed itself to sourcing paper that complies with environmental standards, writes Anita Pati.

Random House, one of the UK's largest publishing houses, has announced a commitment to making its print production process ancient forest-friendly.

The pledge comes after a sustained campaign by both Greenpeace and WWF and will see Random House commit itself to sourcing paper that complies with Forest Stewardship Council standards.

The FSC guarantees timber buyers that their wood comes from well-managed forests and does not erode some of the world's last surviving ancient forests.

Random House UK has taken a lead from its Canadian sister company, which, along with 70 other publishers, including Bloomsbury and Penguin, has already made public pledges to renounce the use of ancient forest fibre in its books. "We have been working on this for some time and we've been talking to Greenpeace and the WWF," said Clare Harrington, group communications director. "We are delighted they approve."

Among its new policy standards, Random House commits to stop using wood from endangered forests, demands that paper mills demonstrate EMS/ISO 14001 accreditation and pledges that its manufacturing processes will conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin.

Stephen Esson, Random House group production director, said: "The selection of the right paper is of vital importance from an environmental as well as a commercial perspective, and we know that it is a concern for many of our authors."

Belinda Fletcher of the UK Greenpeace book campaign said: "This commitment is the most comprehensive developed by a UK publisher to date and sets a good example for other publishing houses to follow."

The Greenpeace campaign started 18 months ago and encourages publishers to stop sourcing paper from ancient forests. Signatories to the campaign include Random House authors such as John O'Farrell and Anne Fine. Random House also worked with the WWF-UK Forest and Trade Network. Rachel Hembery, the network's manager, said Random House's policy was a credible first step towards responsible wood use.

anita.pati@haynet.com

COMMENT

Karl Mitchell, director of development, the Woodland Trust

We're delighted that Random House has announced this commitment.

Companies want to do the right thing for commercial reasons. They are also concerned about the costs and practicality of doing so. If we look at FSC certification in that context, what we find is exciting - companies that are prepared to go the extra mile and wholeheartedly embrace a rigorous scheme like this are expressing confidence that this is where the commercial benefit lies. Such companies will be distinguished from the competition.

Some concern has been expressed that certification will be too expensive for small-scale timber producers. To combat this problem, methods to simplify group and individual certification for small woods have been developed.

As the UK's leading woodland conservation charity, we consider the FSC still to be the only credible forest certification system available. All our woods are FSC certified.

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