Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Recycling and Reprocessing

Better World through books Better World Books

Better World Books (BWB), situated in Dunfermline, is an online bookseller that collects books from organisations such as libraries, universities, recyclers and charity shops. These books are then processed and sold online on 11 marketplaces and on www.betterworldbooks.co.uk. A percentage of each sale goes back to the source organisation and a further percentage goes to support one of BWB’s 5 literacy partners or the BWB Literacy Fund.

This company won the 2015 VIBES Circular Economy Award for businesses whose product or service demonstrates the business and environmental benefits of a closed loop approach. Mairi McManus, Managing Director of Better World Books, said: "Better World Books is thrilled to have won the VIBES Award. Our business model was built to support global literacy through book reuse.”

The re-use of books is recognised as an important contribution to the circular economy. Although other companies sell used books online, BWB are innovative in that no books are sent to landfill; they are sold, donated, or as a last resort recycled. BWB can also track every book received back to the library or organisation it came from. At the heart of the BWB business model is a triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit.

The collection of redundant books ensures that these books are diverted from landfill. They go through a rigorous process to ensure that as many books as possible are reused. Any recycling goes to pulp processing which is then reused in paper manufacture with other reuse options being considered to diversify reuse. Packaging is reused as many times as possible (3x for cardboard boxes) prior to being sent for pulp. The pulped material is manufactured back into packaging material.

BWB try to choose companies to work with that have a sustainability ethos and are local (contributing to Scotland’s development and reducing their carbon footprint).

The company reduce their carbon footprint further by conducting their business travel by public transport whenever possible and planning collection routes to minimise travel and in turn CO2 emissions. They also advise their book donors about how to maximise loads in boxes and on the “perfect pallet” to maximise transport efficiency.

BWB has a strong community involvement. In August they opened their doors for 3 days and invited teachers to take away children’s books for their schools – 35,000 books were donated this way. Space within the building is offered to local groups free of charge and a teachers’ group has booked the space.

Further Information

VIBES Awards

Paper and Cardboard Guidance

You can also search for good practice case studies on the European Resource Efficiency Knowledge Centre (EREK)

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