Kimberly-Clark has caved in to  Greenpeace blackmail:

The toilet paper giant Kimberly-Clark Corporation is turning over a green leaf, so to speak.

The maker of such mega-selling paper product brands as Kleenex and Cottonelle, long the target of environmentalists for their use of virgin timber, said that within two years 40 percent of the fiber in their North American division will either be from recycled sources, or stock certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and industry group promoting responsible forest management.

In return for this change in sourcing, Greenpeace International said it would end its long-running public relations campaign against the company. Greenpeace had sought to vilify Kimberly-Clark — particularly for obtaining fiber from rare, ancient first-growth forest in Canada’s Boreal Forest.

The decision has little to do with the environment. In 2008, Kimberly-Clark commissioned a life-cycle assessment of its tissue products. It concluded:

Following a peer-reviewed life cycle assessment of K-C tissue products, conducted according to international standards by an independent specialist consultancy, we believe there is no environmental preference between using recycled or virgin fiber in the manufacture of our tissue products.

At the time, KC management was pretty sure of its position. But clearly, Greenpeace’s unrelenting campaign against the company was having an impact, so in the end KC threw in the recycled towel.

Similarly, opting for FSC certification is also a face-saving gesture since Kimberly-Clark was already purchasing 98% of its wood fibre from suppliers certified under any of the four competing forest certification systems, including FSC. There is no demonstrable advantage of FSC over the other certification systems, unless the fact that Greenpeace is a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council can be deemed an advantage.

The Canadian forest industry has been at the forefront of forest certification. But in adopting FSC,  Kimberly-Clark will be forcing its Canadian suppliers, presently struggling with a severe downturn, to incur the additional expense of complying with the FSC certification process if they want to sell their product.

Sadly, the rising “market share” of FSC certified forests in Canada and elsewhere does not reflect the deficiencies of the CSA and SFI certification processes, which are popular with Canadian forest products companies, but merely the ability of environmental groups such as Greenpeace to mobilize public opinion on specious grounds.

So as not to unwittingly encourage other forest products companies to succumb to this pressure, there will no longer be a place for Kimberly-Clark products in my shopping cart. Instead, I will be opting for the fine tissue products made here in Canada by Kruger and Cascades.

Advertisements