“In 2009, after reading Ray Anderson’s “Confessions of a Radical Industrialist,” I decided it was Macmillan’s responsibility to lessen our impact on the earth, and in particular, to lower our carbon emissions. We created a senior position in the company and spent well over a year measuring our carbon footprint. We then set ourselves the daunting goal of reducing our scope one, two, and “major” three carbon emissions by 65%, and we gave ourselves a decade to get it done. Over the course of the last nine years, we have made sustainability a major component of all our decisions at the company. In 2010 we instituted a carbon offset program to supplement our efforts. Over the last nine years, we have lowered our carbon emissions by roughly 50%, and with our offsets, we have been carbon neutral globally for the last two years.      
   Getting here has not been easy. We have initiated lots of projects. We have often failed, but we have been relentless in our efforts. We always tried to make good common sense decisions along the way, keeping a balanced approach. In the end, we will not reach our goal of a 65% reduction, but we have been relentless in our approach and it has become a matter of great pride in our company.

    The completion of our ten-year plan leaves us again at the starting line. Climate change is now a burning issue (as I write this the Amazon rainforest is literally burning). We must rededicate ourselves to the cause, and willingly sacrifice when called upon. There is a lot to do, and I’m looking forward to getting after it.”


John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan

A Work in Progress

Reducing our Carbon Emissions

Following in Anderson’s footsteps, Macmillan spent a year conducting a comprehensive investigation of our US operations, our practices, and the practices of those in our supply chain to determine our carbon footprint. We are committed to tracking all major sources of carbon emissions in our operations and global supply chain. 

Our Goals

In 2010, we decided to prioritize the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for the climate crisis as our most pressing issue and set a goal of a 65 percent reduction of our scope 1, 2, and major scope 3 carbon emissions (over our 2010 baseline) by the end of 2020 for Macmillan USA. The largest area of environmental impact for a book publisher is from the manufacture of paper.

Photo Credit: (C) SFI: Michelle Johnson, SC State Forest

Our Findings

We have invested significant resources in becoming more efficient in our paper consumption and rigorously well informed regarding our paper supply. This dedication was rewarded with a reduction in the carbon intensity per metric ton of directly purchased paper required to print our books by 33% between 2010 and 2017.

Read Anderson’s book (ebook), Audio, Paperback

Carbon Emissions

Since 2010, we have calculated our annual carbon emissions from our operations and much of our supply chain to track our efforts in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for our global business. Moreover, in 2018, we were carbon neutral for our global operations and entire supply chain, which is more than the other major publishers can say. Macmillan’s sustainability efforts now cover every aspect of our working day, processes, and all the steps required to acquire, publish, print, and distribute books.


Note, the scope 2 data are “location-based” and do not include renewable energy purchased via RECs or carbon offsets.

Emissions Breakdown

Carbon emissions can be sorted into three distinct categories in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

Scope 1 emissions are derived from heat in our facilities and fuel in our sales representatives’ cars. 

Scope 2 emissions are derived from the electricity we purchase from utilities to power our buildings. 

Scope 3 emissions are derived from our manufacturing and transportation of our books, business travel, employee commuting, and waste management.

We define and track “major scope 3” emissions as the most important parts of our business such as the paper we purchase directly and the distribution of our books. We estimate that “major scope 3” accounts for at least 55% of our full scope 3 emissions.



Engagement & Transparency


Macmillan signed the “We Are Still In” campaign In January 2018 indicating our support for the Paris Agreement. This Agreement calls for countries to submit plans on how each will reduce its carbon emissions to not exceed a 2 degrees Celsius increase in average global temperatures above pre-industrial levels. We join over 3,600 corporations, lawmakers, college presidents, and cities in signing the “We Are Still In” declaration.


Although a privately-held firm, Macmillan voluntarily elected to disclose our carbon emissions and sustainability management program to the CDP to measure and manage our environmental impacts. This submission was a valuable exercise in transparency and benchmarking. The feedback and insights we received from CDP are helping to guide our next steps in reducing our emissions, add mitigation goals, and manage climate crisis risks. 

Rainforest Action Network

In the summer of 2018, Macmillan USA was recognized for our leadership in our Paper Sourcing Policy by the Rainforest Action Network’s Beyond Paper Promises campaign. Specifically, our use of certified papers, fiber testing and consequential engagement, as well as the prohibition of fibers from Indonesia, helped us secure this preferred ranking.