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Allen Hershkowitz’s Blog

Kimberly-Clark's Products Remain Problematic

Allen Hershkowitz

Posted August 5, 2009 in Curbing Pollution, Green Enterprise, Living Sustainably

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Fellow green group Greenpeace has done a tremendous job educating the world about the needless destruction of ecologically irreplaceable forests to make products that are literally flushed down the toilet and thrown in the trash. And today the group has inspired one of the world's largest producers of home paper products to take a step forward that one could not have imagined a few years back.

Kimberly-Clark announced this morning that it will incorporate higher levels of  Forest Stewardship Council-certified fiber into the manufacture of its products -- things like toilet paper and facial tissues.

We hope that this new policy will have long-term forestry benefits, and that other paper companies that haven't yet adopted FSC forestry management practices move forward to do so quickly.

But there's a catch to Kimberly-Clark's step forward today and it's an important one for all consumers to know:

Their at-home tissue products are not guaranteed to improve.

Kimberly-Clark's new policy is to ensure that 40 percent of its North American fiber is either recycled or certified by FSC, but in order for Kimberly Clark products to be environmentally preferable, the company needs to announce meaningful targets for increasing recycled and post-consumer recycled fiber in their products. The current policy does not guarantee that Kimberly-Clark will in fact increase recycled content in any of its at-home products, most of which do not currently contain any recycled content at all.

While we appreciate that the company has taken steps towards better products company-wide, the fact is that many competing at-home tissue products -- found on the same store shelves as Cottonelle and Kleenex -- have already found pathways to success while incorporating high levels of recycled content, which will keep these competitors ahead of Kimberley-Clark on the sustainability path.

For consumers that want to do right by the environment, virgin fiber -- even if it is FSC certified -- just won't cut it for home tissue products.

The most sustainable tissue products are the ones with the highest possible levels of postconsumer recycled content -- and fortunately many of these brands are also soft and enjoyable (see Grist's review of some of the most common sustainable tissues here: http://www.grist.org/article/the-wipe-stuff ). We no longer have to choose between the environment and our derrieres -- and the sooner companies like Kimberly-Clark come on board the sooner we'll have even more choices at the marketplace.

But as for now, even with the new policy, the Kimberly-Clark brands are not quite up to snuff.

 

For a list of top recycled content products, check out our guide to home paper products here: http://www.nrdc.org/land/forests/gtissue.asp

Related links: http://www.grist.org/article/tp

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Comments

Keith FarnishAug 8 2009 06:42 AM

Good bit of criticism, Allen. I have come down even harder on K-C and Greenpeace, and do not believe this is a significant change at all:

http://thesietch.org/mysietch/keith/2009/08/06/greenpeace-usa-grants-kimberly-clark-two-years-unlimited-destruction/

Understandably, quite a few people have been unhappy about my blog, but if telling the truth means spoiling the party, then I have no problem knocking a few drinks over.

cheers

Keith

daelAug 14 2009 11:50 AM

Can they utlilze Canadian hemp for paper pulp?

This would optimize national resources of the farmers and industry way into the future.

Or have you addresss this already?

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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