Greenpeace Catches Kimberly-Clark in a Chain of Lies


In the past six months, we've taken note of campaigns by both the National Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace aimed at corporate giant Kimberly-Clark's use of virgin pulp from Canada's boreal forests. Today, Greenpeace released a report showing evidence that, despite its claims to the contrary, the maker of Kleenex tissues and other paper products does use wood fiber from coastal temperate rainforests in British Columbia, as well as from US federal forest lands. Based on this evidence, Greenpeace has not only publicly called the company out on the distance between its statements and practices, but also filed a letter with the US Securities and Exchange Commission asking for further investigation into K-C's statements to its stockholders.

"We now know that Kimberly-Clark has been lying to the public and its shareholders for years to make itself look like a greener company than it actually is," said Christy Ferguson, a forests campaigner with Greenpeace. "This is totally unacceptable. Kimberly-Clark executives need to stop making empty claims and start implementing meaningful policies to track the company's fibre supply and reduce its impact on ancient forests."

The evidence, compiled in an investigative report entitled Chain of Lies: the Truth about Kimberly-Clark's Use of Ancient Rainforests for Tissue Products, details the movement of wood pulp from coastal temperate rainforests in British Columbia to Seattle-area sawmills to the company's pulp mill in Everett, Washington. The evidence is based in part on US Customs data.

"In 1998, Kimberly-Clark announced that it was ending the use of pulp from coastal temperate rainforests, and officials have repeated that stated position numerous times since," added Ferguson. "In truth, the company continues to use pulp from temperate rainforests, calling all of the company's environmental statements into question."

The claims to not use coastal temperate rainforest pulp form a key tenet of the company's Corporate Policy on Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and are consistently used as a response to criticisms of the company's destruction of other ancient forests, like Canada's Boreal.

Greenpeace's findings put the company in a bit of a "rock and hard place" situation in regards to its policies on forest stewardship: either the company didn't know what suppliers were providing, which goes against its own environmental operations policy adopted in 1991, or it lied to its shareholders and the public. The 24-page report details both the evidence against the company, as well as its numerous statements since 1998 claiming that it wasn't using fibers from unsustainable sources. Greenpeace's Kleercut campaign site offers activism tips for consumers concerned about K-C's disregard of its own fifteen-year old policy. Of course, shoppers can send a very strong signal by refusing to purchase K-C products, and opting for paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Or, better yet, buy cloth napkins, handkerchiefs and cleaning towels that can be reused. ::Chain of Lies (in PDF) via