Kimberly-Clark Bows to Kleercut Campaign Demands:
Adopts New Environmental Policy, by John J. Berger, Ph.D and Lani Maher
We hear of so many environmental tragedies and good battles lost in the environmental arena, but sometimes, steps are taken in the right direction. Greenpeace’s Kleercut campaign appears to be one such success story.
For five years, the Kleercut campaigners have worked to pressure Kimberly-Clark, the multinational paper and consumer products company, to stop supporting the destruction of ancient and endangered forests, like the boreal forests of North American. Kimberly-Clark is the world’s largest tissue producer and the maker of Kleenex, Scott and Cottenelle toilet paper, as well as diapers and other products.
In addition to efforts by Greenpeace, the company was also receiving pressure from clients demanding answers to hard questions and threatening to terminate their contracts with the tissue giant. After nearly five years of public campaigning by Greenpeace, the company’s level of awareness of forest-related issues and sustainability had reached a tipping point. That then resulted in the development and adoption of what he believes is one of the strongest paper policies on the planet, according to Greenpeace Canada’s Forest Campaign Coordinator, Richard Brooks.
On August 5, 2009, Kimberly-Clark released a new environmental policy that was developed in conjunction with Greenpeace to promote the protection of ancient boreal forests in Canada and other treasured forests worldwide. The tissue giant vowed to exclusively use Forest Stewardship Council certified pulp in the production of Kimberly-Clark products and agreed to increase its use of recycled fibers from 29.7% to 40% by 2011. While Kimberly-Clark’s operations will still involve logging, the provisions of its new fiber procurement plan now emphasize environmental values.
Even more impressive than the company’s new policies, is its dedication to implementing them. Since the plan’s adoption, Kimberly-Clark has stopped purchasing pulp from the Kenogami and Ogoki boreal forests in Northern Ontario, in response to the refusal of forest managers to provide Forest Stewardship Council certified pulp. While these forests are maintained by private companies, they are subject to some regulations and are used, in part, by the public for recreational purposes. Old-growth makes up much of these forest management units, however a very small percentage of the forests are protected from logging and development. Prior to the adoption of their new paper policy, Kimberly-Clark purchased 325,000 tonnes of pulp a year from clearcut logging operations in the Kenogami and Ogoki Forests.
Only time will tell how faithfully Kimberly-Clark will implement its new policies and how sustainable those policies will eventually prove to be. The company has agreed to hold meetings with Greenpeace representatives every six months to discuss ongoing implementation. “I believe that Kimberly-Clark is fully behind the policy and committed to implementing it,” Brooks said.
To read Kimberly-Clark’s fiber procurement plan in its entirety, please click here.
For more information about forests, their global importance, and strategies for their protection, please see Forests Forever: Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection by Dr. John Berger
Also, check out this video from the Kleercut Campaign. Congratulations again to Greenpeace for running a successful campaign, and to Kimberly-Clark for committing to better environmental practices. We hope they’ll apply them fairly and vigorously.