A sustainability conversation with CJK Group

Green Journeys,

With its Green Book Alliance partners, Book Industry Communication and BookNet Canada, the Book Industry Study Group is engaged with companies across the book publishing industry about sustainable practices and how different organizations think about green initiatives. This interview is based on a conversation with Grant Miller, CTO and CIO of CJK Group. A brief profile of CJK Group is provided at the end of this post.

Why green your publishing? What are some of the business reasons that led your company to incorporate environmental sustainability as a goal?

We think of four things: improved brand perception, potential revenue growth, recruiting and retaining top talent, and increased attractiveness to enterprise.

Sustainability issues have a strong link to brand perception. CJK Group is currently investing an effort in community development and philanthropy, which is amazing, and we should continue doing it. However, Energy & Climate Change has almost equal impact on brand perception. In addition, being a sustainable brand could be a competitive differentiator for CJK Group.

With respect to revenue growth, in 2015, 66% of millennials said they would be willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact, up from 55% in 2014, and 50% in 2013. In addition, many sustainability issues are implemented by reducing consumption. This can be translated to reduced costs (optimizing electricity use = better sustainability = reduced costs).

When it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent, new employees, specifically millennials, are more likely to choose to work in a company that shares their values, and “will go out of their way to work for a company that demonstrates a genuine commitment to corporate social responsibility, environment, and sustainability. If companies fail to prove that they are sincere about environmental and social sustainability, they risk alienating this group both as customers and employees.”

Finally, many of our enterprise customers have a public corporate responsibility agenda, meaning that enterprise clients will demand more sustainable solutions from CJK Group within time; and once positioned as a sustainable solution, CJK Group would immediately become more attractive for enterprise clients, since it would become a part of their corporate responsibility agenda and make them more attractive to clients and investors.

Of the green initiatives you have implemented, which one made the biggest impact?

Use of recycled papers and recycling of raw materials. These items not only have an impact on the bottom line, but also help support client’s sustainability initiatives.

What resources or tools have you used to benchmark and keep track of your company's environmental impact, and what protocols and timeline are you working towards? And how do you know when you’ve been successful with your initiatives?

We are executing a multi-year plan to drive sustainability, increase reporting and
improve analytics and reporting. Effectively, we are implementing Six Sigma to build out and expand our initiatives. We will achieve our Key Process Indicators (KPIs); which will be our measure of success.

Illustration of how goals are set


How do you investigate the sustainability of your supply chain partners (publishers, distributors, retailers, printers, shippers, etc.)? Is having supply chain partners that also support environmental sustainability important to you?

Our goal is to drive end-to-end improvement, and partnering with both suppliers and clients is critical to success. As mentioned, we are building KPIs that will demonstrate success of our initiatives and we will actively work to make these core to our relationships. Clearly, having partners that support sustainability helps in both the measurement and achievement of our goals.

What roadblocks do you face within the industry when trying to implement sustainable practices? What broader industry commitments need to be made to make the book industry more environmentally sustainable?

The current shortages and cost increases due to paper, transportation, etc. have
made establishing sustainable practices very difficult. Attracting mindshare, driving
total process ROI (versus comparing to base paper prices, etc.) and elevating the
priority of management teams at our partners continues to be a challenge. If the book industry could establish standard benchmarking tools, a library of ideas for execution (with success stories) and highlight these issues in conferences, etc. we would see more success.

We all know that achieving these goals is an ongoing process, but what do you think are some quick wins for organizations or even individual employees?

Quick wins include increased usage of recycled papers, implementing LED lighting, and leveraging government credits for solar/wind power, in order to make it easier to implement.

The CJK Group includes: Sheridan, which provides book, journal, magazine, and catalog and commercial printing and publishing services in the U.S. market; KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd., offering content services and online hosting to journal, book, and magazine publishers in the U.S. and U.K., with operations in India; and Tweddle Group, delivering solution and support services to original equipment manufacturers, with operations in the U.S., Italy, Belgium, and China. As a company, CJK Group is "committed to growth through acquiring the best-in-class content production facilities in the world to ensure that today’s publishers, educators, catalogers, and information providers have a choice to partner with exceptional companies, all dedicated to the highest level of quality and service."