Kleenex Kleercut — Trees for Tissues?


This seems pertinent given that it was Arbor Day recently, and even though our name maybe tongue-in-cheek, we are kind of fond of the things anyhow. Anyhow late last month Kimberly-Clark held their annual general meeting (AGM), where the Chairman and CEO told the assembled masses that the company was achieving growth through a sharpened focus on innovation. Which is sort of at odds with their Forest Fact Sheet, which appears oddly prominent on their website's home page, alongside their 2005 Sustainability Report. The Forest Fact sheet states "K-C's Use of Virgin and Recycled Fiber is in Line With Industry Practices." Not a statement that really screams innovation. The reason for Kimberly-Clark to be so boldly displaying their environmental credentials online may have something to do with a current Greenpeace campaign, known as Kleercut, whereby the rainbow warriors assert "Kimberly-Clark clearcuts ancient forests to manufacture Kleenex tissue product." At the same AGM noted above, a group of K-C shareholders with a combined $21 million USD worth of stock, urged the company to shed a 'tarnished environmental record' and commit to using fibre from sustainable forestry operations, certified to the standards to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). That might've been an interesting enough story on its own, but in re-reading my source link and those of K-C and Greenpeace, something else came into view.In an interesting piece of journalism, the Dallas Business Journal say, "The group [Greenpeace] maintains that only 29 percent of the fiber Kimberly-Clark uses comes from recycled sources." Yet on the Kleercut website, Greenpeace suggest, "In North America, less than 19 per cent of the pulp Kimberly-Clark uses for its disposable tissue products (toilet paper, facial tissue, napkins and paper towels) comes from recycled sources."

The DBJ goes on to say "But a sustainable forestry practice report on the company's Web site refutes many of the claims made by Greenpeace. According to the report, leading manufacturers, including Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB), use an average of 40 to 60 percent recycled fiber content in their home tissue products."

Which is kinda odd, because what the document (PDF) actually says is:

"You may be interested to know that all of the leading premium consumer tissue brands in North America primarily contain virgin fiber.The main reason is consumer preference for certain product attributes, like strength and softness, which decline as the amount of recycled fiber increases. Consumers have voiced that preference through their purchases: consumer tissue products containing recycled fiber accounted for only 1.8 percent of all dollars spent on branded consumer tissue products in the United States in 2005. It's normal for away-from-home tissue products, which serve markets like hotels, restaurants and businesses, to contain a higher recycled content. Leading manufacturers, including K-C, use an average of 40 to 60 percent recycled fiber content in these products."

And to think that the Dallas Business Journal said that a Kimberky-Clark spokesman wasn't available for comment. Guess he would've been superfluous anyhow, as the DBJ were doing such a good job of being creative with the truth all by themselves.