How Royal Boom supports its SDGs with Coolset

June 20, 2024

Royal Boom Publishers is a Dutch publishing group and long-standing family business, founded in Meppel in 1841. With its extensive range of publications, Boom aims to foster growth in individuals, professionals, society, and science in both the Netherlands and Belgium. As we all play a part in shaping our society, there is a constant need for quality information, efficient knowledge sharing, and insight.

With a history spanning over 180 years, Boom is focused on long-term growth and adapting to market changes. This includes responding to ongoing shifts in education, especially digitalization.

Ineke Lip is a key member of Boom's management team and serves as the company's CFO. She’s also one of the key decision makers on developing the company’s strategic direction.

As CFO, Ineke knows that understanding the company's financial data is crucial, as it reflects all aspects of the business. Early trend and anomaly detection allows for easier course correction, an important aspect of her job.

We spoke to Ineke about Boom’s sustainability challenges and why the publishing group decided to partner with Coolset.

Democratizing the process of deciding company SDGs

With a long-standing commitment to continuity, Boom Publishers took an inclusive approach to selecting company Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Instead of setting quantifiable targets, they first established qualitative SDGs that they knew they could influence. To achieve this, they surveyed stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, commissioners, customers, and suppliers, asking for their input on climate and ESG issues, and how Boom could positively impact them.

This approach resulted in the identification of five broad SDGs:

  • Quality education
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
  • Climate action 
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions

Recognizing the complexity of these goals, especially emissions reduction, Boom then worked on breaking them down into smaller, company-specific subgoals that would lead to practical next steps.

Connecting working groups to SDGs they care about

Boom Publishers followed an organic approach by connecting working groups of individuals who were passionate about specific topics to the SDGs that mattered to them. 

These working groups were tasked with developing initiatives that supported the selected SDGs. The initiatives included actions like:

  • Planting trees for every set number of books sold by one of our companies;
  • Ensuring publications are accessible to blind and deaf individuals; 
  • Hosting workshops to promote inclusive language; 
  • Researching eco-friendly printing houses; 
  • Using FSC-certified paper.

Apart from these initiatives, Boom also decided to implement Coolset’s carbon accounting software to start monitoring their Scope 1, 2 and 3 activities and track their current carbon emissions.

Why Boom decided to start working with Coolset

As a future-focused company, Boom Publishers was already in the market for a sustainability solution. However, they weren’t originally in talks with Coolset, nor was this decarbonization platform on their list of prospects:

Ineke: "It was quite funny. We had already put out a few RFPs and Coolset wasn’t even in our scope, nor on our radar. But during our research, someone from the Coolset team reached out on LinkedIn. It was actually the perfect moment for us! Ideologically, there was also a great fit with Boom. So we decided to go ahead and start a collaboration."

Ineke Lip and Boom's finance team

The challenge for Boom lies in balancing sustainability initiatives with maintaining a profitable business, a necessity for a company focused on continuity and in it for the long run. While Boom recognizes the importance of moving towards a more sustainable model, these initiatives often come at a cost. 

Particularly, social and qualitative SDG initiatives that may not have immediate or tangible monetary returns. Ineke noted the tension between profitability and the costs of focusing on sustainability initiatives with hard-to-prove long-term benefits.

When asked to give an example of this tension, Ineke explained:

"It’s possible to print elsewhere in Europe more cheaply than here in the Netherlands. However, from a sustainability perspective, it makes more sense to print locally, as you’re minimizing transportation. By doing so, your costs will rise. It’s only possible to keep making the more sustainable choice up to a certain extent. The challenge is to be able to make those choices that cause a reduction in CO2e emissions and at the same time support sustainable growth of your company’s value."

Since Coolset offers data-driven insights that can help balance sustainability goals with a company's long-term growth plans, Boom decided to partner with us to start making more informed decisions.

The first step towards taking guesswork out of the equation

Before partnering with Coolset, Boom Publishers was often forced to rely on guesswork and common sense to gauge the environmental impact of their business choices.

With Coolset's analysis of Boom's emissions data, the company was able to get a more accurate picture of their impact. Ineke Lip, commenting on the findings, noted: 

"It was quite reassuring to discover that some of our efforts were right on track. For instance, we were already trying to focus on reducing our data usage due to its high costs. When we got back our emissions dataset from Coolset and dove in to analyze it, we noticed that data storage was a huge source of carbon emissions."

Ineke pointed out that these insights are invaluable for backing up commercial decisions with tangible data. However, she noted that some nuance was necessary, especially regarding emissions from transport. 

"For example, Coolset’s dataset showed a lot of our emissions came from our central distribution hub. The products we sell go from the printing house to a centralized storage, the CB (Centraal Boekhuis), from which they are distributed to individual customers.”

“The CB is currently spending a lot of their time on becoming more sustainable. Of course, transporting those goods 100+ km generates a certain amount of emissions. But that will be different depending on whether you’re driving on petrol or on electricity. We feel that our transportation partners' data could provide even greater depth in the future. And we hope to find out that we’re already emitting less than we seem to be, due to these kinds of initiatives."

Royal Boom Publishers continuously strives to produce its publications in a sustainable way

Ineke also expressed her excitement for future benchmarking. "As a financial professional, I’m quite used to taking data points and benchmarking those across different years, to put things in context. I’d really love to get a picture of how we perform over time, or even in comparison to companies similar to ours."

Acknowledging the complexity of emissions and sustainability analyses, Ineke looks forward to their next assessment. This could show the impact of their initiatives on emissions reduction and provide a benchmark for their current numbers.

CSRD compliance, next steps, and the future of Boom and Coolset

Boom Publishers, as a company with over 250 employees, is also gearing up to comply with the upcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) regulations.

When asked about the company's sustainability efforts and the role Coolset plays in their journey towards compliance, Ineke said:

“Sustainability was already firmly on the company agenda. Our qualitative approach was on point. Now that the CSRD is going to come into effect, it’s going to become necessary to focus on the quantitative aspect and actual reporting as well. Working with Coolset was the first step to becoming compliant. I’m confident we’ll be able to get there.”

Boom is currently defining the KPIs for their quantitative approach to sustainability, a shift initiated by Coolset. Additionally, the working groups responsible for specific sustainability initiatives have been given access to Coolset's emissions report.

“For instance, we’ve shared the numbers regarding the emissions linked to our suppliers with the working group that’s working on making the printing process and the paper we use more sustainable, so they have a quantitative basis to work on,” said Ineke.

Regarding the future of Boom and Coolset's collaboration, Ineke Lip is quite optimistic: 

“It seems the team at Coolset is working hard and doing a great job at improving their models. We hope this will make using their tool even more easy and efficient. I firmly believe using Coolset will provide us with better insights and allow us to reduce our carbon emissions more effectively.” 

“After all, what gets measured gets done. Instead of relying on guesswork, now, we’ll be able to make decisions based on actual results.”

Customer
Ineke Lip
Role
CFO
Company
Royal Boom Publishers
Company size
100-500
Used product(s)
Automated carbon analytics
Industry
ACADEMIC Publishing

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