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 company portrayed the change as important, but incremental — in line with a series of sourcing changes made over the last decade. “Kimberly-Clark sees clearly the changes in the marketplace and increased consumer demand for environmentally friendly products,” said Kay Jackson, a company spokeswoman. “We are at the forefront of responding to consumer needs.”
Greenpeace, which helped design the company’s new sourcing rules, said the results from the company’s commitment would be dramatic. “To be blunt, Kimberly-Clark uses a great deal of forest fiber,” Scott Paul, director of Greenpeace’s Forest Campaign, said in a statement given at a press briefing.
“It is the largest tissue company in the world. To its credit, Kimberly-Clark recognizes that sustainability is not so much a destination but an ongoing and endless pursuit. The steps committed to today, and the impact these steps will have on forests, should not be underestimated.”
The two groups said that they planned to continue working together in the future.