Victory: Kimberly-Clark announces new sustainability policy

22341Since 2004, Greenpeace has been at war with Kimberly-Clark, the maker of brands such as Kleenex, Scott, and Cottonelle, (See “What’s in you box of Kleenex?”) This week, Greenpeace officially ended its campaign against the paper giant, in the wake of K-C’s new, more eco-friendly policy:

Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the company’s wood fiber for tissue products, including the Kleenex brand, from environmentally responsible sources. The revised standards will enhance the protection of Endangered Forests and increase the use of both Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified fiber and recycled fiber.  By the end of 2011, Kimberly-Clark will ensure that 40 percent of its North American tissue fiber – representing an estimated 600,000 tonnes – is either recycled or FSC certified, an increase of more than 70 percent over 2007 levels.

Also by the end of 2011, Kimberly-Clark will eliminate the purchase of any fiber from the Canadian Boreal Forest that is not FSC certified. This forest is North America’s largest old growth forest, providing habitat for threatened wildlife such as woodland caribou and a sanctuary for more than one billion migratory birds. It is also the largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon on the planet, storing the equivalent of 27 years worth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

You can send a thank-you letter to K-C here.

This is a tremendous victory for forests, and it is especially moving, since it resulted largely from the efforts of grassroots activists (though, admittedly, the funds of a mega-enviro-group played a big role as well).  Grassroots campaigns are all the rage, these days, even among conservatives.  Though I respect the opinions of the Tea Party folks, I’d love to ask them how many major corporations they’ve changed lately (for the record, Nike and Timberland are also implementing greener policies).

Still, I think K-C could do better.  They say 40% of their products will be recycled or FSC-certified by 2011, but some companies make 100% recycled paper products, right now.  I know it’s hard for a big company like K-C to change, but it would be nice to see a goal of 100% PCR at some point.

Nevertheless, I applaud K-C for their progress.  If a company like that can move forward environmentally, then there’s no excuse for others to resist change.  As consumers in a free market, we must use our influence to encourage companies to sincerely try to be socially conscious, because socially conscious corporations are, tragically, a minority.


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