|clear cut forest|
Engaging in a bit of a lovefest, Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark announced today that the paper-products giant has finally agreed to clean up its act. It will source the fiber for its tissue products, under brand names that include Kleenex, Scott, and Cottonelle, from â€œenvironmentally responsible sources,â€ including those that are FSC-certified and recycled. The company has also committed to end the purchase of non-FSC fibers from Canadaâ€™s Boreal forest by 2011. For its part, Greenpeace will drop the five-year-old Kleercut campaign that has long urged Kimberly-Clark to quit destroying the Boreal just so cold-sufferers can experience a softer blow.
In a fit of hard-earned mutual admiration, Kimberly-Clark VP Suhas Apte said, â€œWe commend Greenpeace for helping us develop more sustainable standards,â€ while Greenpeace USA Forest Campaign Director Scott Paul called Kimberly-Clark a â€œresponsible companyâ€ and said its â€œefforts are a challenge to its competitors. I hope other companies pay close attention.â€
Those other companies include Georgia Pacific and Procter & Gamble, both of which Greenpeace is still pressuring on the sustainable sourcing front.
I contacted Michael Conroy, who wrote a book on corporate greening and grassroots campaigns called Branded (and whom I interviewed last year for Grist), to see what he made of the news. â€œThis is a huge victory for global forests, the FSC, and Greenpeace,â€ he replied. â€œKimberly-Clark is the worldâ€™s largest manufacturer of tissue paper products. The nature of the commitments, the specific timetables provided, and the Kimberly-Clark agreement to report back regularly on what proportion of the fiber sourced for its tissue has come from recycled and FSC-certified sources makes this a very credible commitment.â€
Conroy also pointed out that the conclusion of Kleercut, which â€œused print media, social networking, YouTube videos, and incredibly creative ways to wear down Kimberly-Clark resistance, shows that the new tools for communicating with consumers are bringing even more power to civil society as we seek to transform the social and environmental practices of the worldâ€™s largest corporations.â€
Ginger Cassady, senior campaigner for ForestEthics, was also pleased as punch by the news. As Cassady wrote in an op-ed for Grist this spring on Kimberly-Clarkâ€™s â€œScott Naturalsâ€ line, â€œKimberly-Clark has no trouble with innovationâ€”if they can make an anti-viral tissue product, for godâ€™s sake, they can make Kleenex with 100 percent post-consumer recycled content.â€ Angry that the company was still â€œwiping away ancient forests to make Kleenex,â€ Cassady used that piece to advise consumers to avoid the distraction of a single product line and keep their eyes on the entire company.
The companyâ€™s new policy, she told me today, â€œis among the strongest in the world … truly impressive.â€ Along with Greenpeace, she says she hopes the move by Kimberly-Clark will influence other companies. â€œForestEthics congratulates Greenpeace and allies for a campaign well run,â€ she said.