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Our 2021-2022 Impact Report

Welcome to our Environmental Impact Report 2021/2022. This report provides a summary of our carbon emission calculations, from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022 (known as ‘2021’), and our total impact including what we’ve done to minimise this. We’ve put this report together as we want to be transparent about our emissions and encourage others in the industry to get involved and help create a more sustainable way of living, sooner rather than later.

Every single company, big or small, has their part to play in ensuring the world reaches net zero. The climate emergency is for everyone, everywhere. It’s become clear that, to tackle the crisis head-on, we need to take immediate and decisive action.

We know this alone isn’t enough, and there is always room for improvement. Our core value is to make every aspect of our business more sustainable, be transparent about our emissions, and to hopefully inspire others to do the same.

2021 was an eventful one. We joined the Publishers Association Sustainability Taskforce, became a signatory of Publishing Declares, and also became a member of the United Nations SDG Publisher Compact. As our business continues to grow, so does our impact, so we regularly monitor our emissions data and increase our funding if needed.

What does net zero mean?

Net Zero – or carbon neutral – means achieving a balance between the carbon emissions a company or person has emitted into the atmosphere, and the carbon removed from it.

What does climate positive mean?

To be climate positive – or carbon negative – a company needs to measure its carbon footprint and then carry out carbon offsetting activities to effectively remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it emits. It means by going beyond Net Zero to create an environmental benefit by removing additional emissions from the atmosphere. Carbon Negative means the same thing as Climate Positive.

What is Scope 1, 2, and 3?

When a company measures and calculates its emissions, they are broken down into 3 different scopes. Scope 1 includes emissions from activities owned or controlled by a company that directly releases emissions into the atmosphere. For example, the gas used to heat a building.

Scope 2 covers indirect emissions associated with the purchase of electricity, heat, or cooling.

Scope 3 includes emissions that a company has no direct control over, but can be influenced through a supply chain and will represent the majority of emissions including the manufacture of their products.

Scope 1 and 2 – Our direct emissions

When we measure our carbon emissions, we count all of it meaning our footprint includes the manufacture of our products as well as our direct impacts such as the energy we use, employee travel, and our internet and data usage. We believe this is the only way to understand our true environmental impact.

As technology advances and creates more accurate carbon calculations, our reporting improves to capture more robust and accurate carbon data. This is why we add 15% to our emissions data to give our organisation some headroom in terms of accurate reporting.

In future reports, we may see some fluctuations to our figures as new technology and information becomes available. This, of course, will not stop us acting on our environmental policy and we shall always seek to work in better ways, to remain climate positive.

Our internet and data usage

Included in our scope 2 calculations is our data and internet usage. We’re all aware of the environmental impact the airline industry, or deforestation has on our natural world, but not often do we see companies taking into consideration their data usage. We have calculated the C02 emissions from our website’s bandwidth usage, our email usage, and also the emissions from every single time someone has viewed our website.

Our website hosting provider uses green energy to power our servers and they also offset emissions by 300%.

Scope 3 – Our indirect emissions

Scope 3 emissions often represent the majority of an organisations total Greenhouse Gas emissions and are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the organisation. Scope 3 emissions include all sources not within the Scope 1 and 2 boundary, although the Scope 3 emissions for one organisation could be the Scope 1 or 2 emissions of another.

Our scope 1, 2, and 3 total emissions emitted in 2021 equal 33.75T of C02. We then add 15% to bring it up to 38.81T. In the same year, through the projects we have supported, we have reduced 73.69T of C02. Since June 2020, we have been responsible for 53.87T of C02, having reduced over 111T in the same timeframe.

Tree Planting

We know that planting trees is an excellent way to restore the planet, especially in our industry. But, when applying tree-planting as a climate solution, organisations have to take steps to ensure that the work is being done properly. Our tree planting partner plants trees with Eden Reforestation Projects, which aims to reduce extreme poverty and restore healthy forests by employing local people to plant millions of trees every year. We also don’t take the carbon sequestered by our trees into account when we measure and account for our own emissions.

Not only do we plant trees, we calculate the number of trees ‘used’ for our books on a monthly, and yearly basis, and plant accordingly meaning we will always plant more trees than have been used for our products.

In 2021, we planted 2,587 trees in countries around the world including Madagascar, Kenya, Brazil, and Nicaragua. In total, we have planted more than 4,500 trees. Whilst we keep track of how many trees have been funded for planting, it always takes a little while before the trees we’ve funded are planted – depending on planting seasons and local conditions.

A pie chart showing the locations of trees planted by SRL since June 2020.

Carbon Offsetting

The carbon offset projects we fund to offset our footprint rotate each month between top-quality projects that avoid Greenhouse Gases from entering the atmosphere (such as renewable energy projects which displace existing fossil fuel energy). Our partner only funds projects which meet the highest verification standards, such as Gold Standard or Verified Carbon Standard.

Until they are several years old, our baby trees are not mature enough to sequester carbon in large quantities – and those verification programmes which do exist often will not verify carbon removal from trees until they are around 10 years old. That’s why we do not count our trees as contributing towards offsetting our footprint – and only offset using verified carbon credits. Of course – our trees are still out there removing carbon.

UN Sustainable Goals

The projects we support through our carbon offsetting support the United Nations SDG goals. Every single project we support contributes to SDG number 13 – Climate Action, but we also look at which other SDGs our projects contribute toward.

Bar Chart showing each SDG and the number of projects which contributed

On average each project we supported and funded between April 2021 and March 2022, contributed to an average of 5 Sustainable Development Goals.

Aside from SDG goal 13 (Climate Action), the most common SDG among our projects this year was SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth), followed by SDG 7 ( Affordable clean energy).

The projects supported throughout 2021 and their respective locations are listed below.

  • Protecting old growth forest, Peru
  • Waste biogas into electricity, Thailand
  • Fuel efficient cookstoves in Honduras
  • Onshore wind energy generation in Taiwan
  • Cleaner cookstoves, Zambia
  • Producing energy from waste rice husks, India
  • Protecting lowland peat forest, Indonesia
  • Onshore wind energy, India
  • Using waste biomass to produce energy, Chile
  • Producing renewable wind energy, Bulgaria
  • Preserving Amazon rainforest, Brazil
  • Solar power generation, India
  • Wind power generation, Vietnam
  • Produce electricity from wind power, Thailand
  • Generating hydro power energy, India

Industry Collaboration

In 2021 we joined the Publisher’s Association Sustainability Taskforce, working to develop industry standard tools for the continuing evolution of our industry in accordance with the UN Sustainability Goals and to further our contribution towards a low-carbon future. We also became members of the United Nations SDG Publisher Compact and a signatory of Publishing Declares committing further to industry-wide collaboration on climate action in the UK.

Climate Positive

Since June 2020 we’ve been officially climate positive. This means we basically reduce more carbon from our atmosphere than we emit. Every single month we use our sales data to total the number of pages for each individual book, times the number of sales, total this up and use this figure to then calculate the number of trees’ worth of paper used for our products. We then fund the planting of trees accordingly. On average, one tree can produce around 16,000 pages. Of course, not all trees are the same size so these are average figures.

Throughout 2021, we have used 205 trees for our products and we planted 2587. We also funded projects around the world which helped reduce emissions by 73.69 tonnes. Our organisation was responsible for 38.81T of emissions, meaning we remain climate positive cementing our position as an environmental leader for the publishing industry.

Since June 2020, we’ve planted 4,575 trees and reduced over 111 tonnes of C02.

2021 Environmental Recognition

  • Winner– 2022 Business Champion Awards – Sustainable Business of the Year
  • Shortlisted – 2021 Lloyds Bank Business Awards – Purpose Before Profit Award
  • Winner – 2021 Green Apple Awards – Best Environmental Practice
  • Shortlisted – 2021 BusinessGreen Leaders Awards – Leader of the Year

What else can be done?

In the Paris Agreement, countries and world leaders would need to keep global warming below 1.5°C. To do this, the world needs to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero by 2050. This is a huge challenge, one which requires direct, immediate, and worldwide action from countries and governments around the world. Below, we’ve shared some simple tips you can do, as a company or individual, to start reducing your emissions today.

  • Change the way you travel – travel by public transport if you can. Offset any flight emissions.
  • Switch to renewable energy supplier – This can be done easily, but make sure the company generates 100% renewable energy
  • Shop wisely – avoid fast fashion and shop with environmentally responsible companies
  • Choose your food wisely – More plants, less meat. Use apps like OLIO, and Too Good To Go to help fight food waste.
  • Use your voice – Stay informed, raise awareness, educate others, and vote for a more sustainable future.