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Re-read, re-cycled: circular economy

A circular economy business

The circular economy is an alternative to the ‘make-use-dispose’ model of the traditional, linear economy. It keeps resources in use for as long as possible, recognising and extracting the most value from them.

We take goods – books mainly but also CDs, DVDs and other media – that people don’t want and find them a new home. We buy items from charity shops, libraries and individuals via Ziffit or collect them from book bank. We process them, sell on what we can and recycle everything else.

Where we’re unable to find something a new home, we ensure it doesn’t go to waste and, instead, goes on to become something else. We consider ourselves pioneers in the re-use and recycling of unwanted books, recycling 30,000 tonnes, about 80 million books, each year; the equivalent to 575,000 trees. All of our paper waste is recycled within the UK. The plastic from DVDs, CDs and games is also recycled.

This creates a true circular economy: benefiting charities, the environment, and of course all the passionate book lovers out there!


We want our customers to receive their books in the condition they bought them, so our packaging needs to protect our goods from the elements for their new owners.

We also want our packaging to have a low environmental impact. We conducted an extensive tender process for our packaging, trying to balance the thorny issues of lower carbon and plastic reduction, which are not always in alignment. We understand many of our customers want to reduce their use of single-use plastics. However, we also need packaging that protects our products and helps us keep our carbon footprint as low as possible. After weighing up the options, the best answer at the moment is recyclable plastic packaging with a high proportion of recycled material.

We have made improvements to all our packaging, both poly and cardboard. We’ve made our poly-mailers thinner, changing the thickness from 60 microns to 55. This means we will reduce the amount of virgin plastic we use by 4.7 tonnes each year.

We’ve also introduced 30% recycled plastic content - saving a further 16.8 tonnes of new plastic from being produced. Our poly packaging has a LDPE 04 logo on it, which means that it can be recycled with other soft plastic, and is made in the UK. Our cardboard packaging is also 100% recyclable.

How to recycle our packaging (WRAP)

We encourage you to recycle the packaging from your World of Books purchase. Find your nearest recycling point using the handy widget below:

Case study - Responsible partners

We work with carefully selected partners, who share our values, throughout our business. From paper recycling and packaging supply to customer deliveries, we rely on their support to make our business a success, so think that it is important that they are committed to responsible business practices too.

These include:

  • Povoas, who make our poly mailer bags. Being UK based helps keep our carbon footprint low, cutting out transportation from overseas.
  • D.S. Smith, our cardboard packaging supplier, who also demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability.
  • Veolia, the UK leader in environmental solutions, who provide us with a comprehensive range of recycling services designed to build the circular economy and preserve scarce raw materials.