World of Books

Sustainable Growth Fund III

‘Circular economy’ technology business that has pioneered the reuse and recycling of unwanted books

  • Theme

    Sustainable Living

  • Date of Initial Investment

    November 2016

  • Bridges Executives

    Oliver Wyncoll
    James Hurrell

  • Management Team

    Martin Nye - Chair
    Stephen Boobyer – CEO
    Graham Bell – CFO & COO
    Simon Downes – CTO

We chose Bridges as an investor because we felt they shared our values, understood our sector and our vision of what World of Books can achieve in the future. We hope to draw on the experience of Oliver, James and the wider Bridges team to keep building the business and maximising growth – but also to help us develop the way we think and talk about our existing and future impact as a business.

Stephen Boobyer, CEO of World of Books

Challenge: Population growth and over-consumption are leading to increased quantities of waste. The UK alone produces 200m tonnes of waste per year, and although recycling rates have been increasing over the past decade, around 25% of this waste still goes to landfill – the biggest contributor to carbon emissions of any waste disposal treatment. The UK is targeting an 80% reduction in CO2e emissions by 2050.

Investable Solution: World of Books, a market-leading ‘circular economy’ technology business, has pioneered the reuse and recycling of books that might otherwise go to landfill. It works with charity shops and recycling merchants to collect and buy used books, while also buying unwanted books directly from consumers through its proprietary Ziffit ‘scan and send’ app. The technology platform it has developed over the last decade enables it to re-sell as many of these books as possible, via its own website and others such as Amazon and eBay, while the rest are recycled to make corrugated cardboard packaging and newsprint. This allows World of Books to offer over 2m high-quality, low-cost used books for sale to a global customer base – while also reducing carbon emissions.

Outcomes: World of Books will scale up its efforts to avert carbon emissions, firstly by increasing the re-use of books that would otherwise have been pulped, and secondly by reducing demand for virgin pulp through recycling. Recycling a book results in 38% less emissions compared to landfill, while making cardboard with the recycled material is 24% more efficient in terms of emissions than using virgin material. Reusing a book causes negligible carbon emissions apart from logistics, thereby resulting in c. 93% less emissions than recycling.


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