Environmental Sustainability at Liverpool University Press: Working Towards Net Zero

In November 2021 Liverpool University Press (LUP) reaffirmed its commitment to environmental sustainability by becoming a founding signatory of the Publishing Declares sustainability pledge and adding its signature to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Publishers Compact. The intention was to build on the work of the Press’s internal Environmental Sustainability Group, established in 2019 and charged with identifying challenges and opportunities to practise and promote environmental sustainability across all areas of the business, by providing a basis for devising a set of practical objectives against which LUP can measure progress towards its aim of achieving carbon neutrality.

It’s been a busy year at the Press for action on sustainability, with conversations taking place within and across all departments. The production team, for example, has been working to ensure when printing books and journals that where possible only FSC® certified paper, vegetable-based inks and eco-friendly adhesives are used. The Press is also moving towards zero inventory for new books, opting for Print on Demand (POD) as the more sustainable choice to printing large initial runs which need to be transported and stored. Similarly, in an effort to reduce waste LUP’s printing operation for journals remains extremely lean, with the number of copies matched to the number of subscribers and catch-ups and claims processed via POD. At present all books as well as POD journals are shipped in cardboard packaging. Initial runs for journals use mostly recycled plastic, however the Press is delighted to report that from the beginning of 2023 these, too, will move to the more sustainable cardboard option. LUP continues to assess alternatives for sustainable packaging and plans to trial ‘naked packaging’ for some journal issues from March 2023. Meanwhile, the sales & marketing team is pursuing a digital-first marketing approach as part of LUP’s commitment to environmental sustainability. This means that at conferences, for example, the Press will henceforth where possible aim to advertise only within event programmes and/or via virtual booths, sponsorship arrangements and email marketing campaigns.

Framing the positive work taking place within Press departments is LUP’s ongoing collaboration with Zero Carbon Academy. Following a successful application to the University of Liverpool’s 2022 Sustainability Fund, the Press has teamed up with the environmental sustainability experts to implement a six-stage plan built to achieve carbon neutrality across its entire business portfolio. The Sustainability Fund also gave LUP an opportunity to realise a long-held vision of transforming the courtyard at their Liverpool office from a disused plot to a flourishing green space. Over the summer, members of staff teamed up with Liverpool Tool Library, a tool rental service based in south Liverpool committed to reducing waste and fixing to feel good, for two days of cleaning, constructing and planting. Project-managed by Alice Burns, all plants and materials where locally sourced where possible, with an emphasis on pollinator-friendly species and shade friendly shrubs to maximise environmental benefit.

The Press looks forward to continuing its hard work in the area of environmental sustainability into the new year and beyond.

Before photograph of our courtyard.
The courtyard after renovation.
Close up photograph of new planters fitted.