KCP* pledges to reduce its ‘Forest Fibre Footprint’
KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL* is to participate in a bold programme designed to reduce its ‘Forest Fibre Footprint’ significantly, which includes a corporate wide goal of transitioning at least 50% of the wood fibre it sources from natural forests to alternative fibre sources by 2025.
The initiative was launched recently by parent company Kimberly-Clark Corporation to coincide with the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June. As a key part of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation family, KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL* will play a full and active role in the programme.
This broad, new initiative will help protect biodiversity and reduce the impacts of fibre that the company uses while ensuring the fibre is sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Equally important, the initiative will help insulate the company from continuing volatile price fluctuations in the world fibre market.
Lori Shaffer, Sustainability Marketing Manager at KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL*, said: “We continue to support sustainable forestry where those materials are needed, but at the same time we are aggressively exploring high-potential alternatives to the traditional fibre sources used in our industry, while maintaining the high quality standards our customers and consumers have come to expect. In the long run, we hope that one day all of our fibre needs will be met from sources that collectively have maximum land use efficiencies while minimising impact on people and our planet.”
In 2011, Kimberly-Clark Corporation used nearly 750 thousand metric tons of primary wood fibre sourced from natural forests. With this new commitment, it pledges to cut the amount sourced from natural forests in half by 2025, an amount equivalent to the fibre used to manufacture more than three and a half billion rolls of toilet paper. In its tradition of innovation and responsibility, the company’s initiative includes exploration of alternative sources of fibre for its products.
Lori Shaffer explained: “As global demand for the world’s forest resources increases, identifying and using fibre alternatives will be essential to the sustainability of those forests and to our business. Forests and trees are essential to life – they clean the air, store vast amounts of carbon, purify water, control erosion, and support wildlife. In addition, more than 1.6 billion people worldwide depend directly on natural forests for their livelihood, food, clothing, and shelter.”
She continued: “Almost half of the Earth’s original forest cover is gone, much of it removed within the past three decades, and with world population projected to reach nine billion by 2050, pressure on these important resources continues to grow. Therefore Kimberly-Clark, and KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL*, is pledging to innovate creatively for the future by being more flexible in its fibre usage.”
The programme has drawn support from major environmental organisations. Richard Brooks, Greenpeace Forest Campaign Coordinator, said: “Taking pressure off natural forests is a key measure to helping the world’s remaining forests and curbing deforestation. If done correctly, Kimberly-Clark’s innovative practices could be groundbreaking and potentially set a new high bar for other companies to meet. We applaud Kimberly-Clark on this initiative.”
Kerry Cesareo, Managing Director of World Wildlife Fund’s Forests programme, said: “Even with modest projections for population growth, consumption and climate change, by 2030 we would need two Earths to keep up with global demand for food, fibre and fuel – so this announcement is a welcomed initiative that builds on Kimberly-Clark’s commitment to responsible forestry. While we remain cautious in our optimism regarding alternative fibres as a strategy to reduce the company’s forest fibre footprint, we all need to learn to ‘do more with less’.”
Alternative fibre sources
To reduce its Forest Fibre Footprint, Kimberly-Clark is pursuing high-potential fibre alternatives, such as plants that make efficient and sustainable use of land and resources with the desired intent not to displace food crops or lead to loss of natural forests. Existing examples of this in practice include the following:
- KIMBERY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL* is currently test marketing tissue products which contain 20% bamboo in North America
- Andrex Eco bath tissue, launched in the UK, contains 10% bamboo and 90% recycled fibre
- Kimberly-Clark has recently signed a development agreement with Booshoot, a biotech firm in Washington State and the global leader in bamboo forestry, which will enable further exploration into the supply chain to manufacture Kimberly-Clark tissue products containing bamboo using Booshoot’s unique bamboo propagation technology
- Rapidly-growing tree plantation-sourced fibre
Another potential solution is ‘waste’ fibres that are currently discarded or considered low value, such as agricultural crop remnants that remain in the field after harvesting. Again, there are existing examples of this taking place, as follows:
- KIMBERY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL* is currently test marketing tissue products made in part with alternative fibres, including wheat straw, in North America
- Kimberly-Clark is exploring alternative processing technologies and supply chain solutions for using such waste fibres. To ensure it understands and responsibly manages the impacts of its decisions, Kimberly-Clark has commissioned a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and broader sustainability risk assessment with the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Lori Shaffer added: “While KIMBERLY-CLARK PROFESSIONAL* realises that meeting its aspirational goal to significantly reduce its use of fibre sourced from natural forests will be challenging, the company remains steadfast in its commitment to continue to work with key stakeholders to define and lower its Forest Fibre Footprint.”
For more information on Kimberly-Clark’s leading sustainability initiatives and progress towards the company’s Sustainability 2015 goals, view its 2011 Sustainability Report – Full Circle.