Paper pushing

Greenpeace is a little hot under the collar. This might be the result of global warming (now conveniently “climate change”).

Greenpeace is a little hot under the collar. This might be the result of global warming (now conveniently “climate change”).

Or, more appropriately, Greenpeace is always heated up by the idea of a successful big business like Kimberly-Clark, whose brands include Scott Tissue, Kleenex and Huggies, using natural resources to make a profit.

Greenpeace launched its “Kleercut” crusade on K-C in 2005, accusing the company of using wood purchased from British Columbia coastal forest—which was against the company’s policy.

It turns out Greenpeace was right, and K-C apologized, admitting it had in fact purchased some wood chips that had been harvested in British Columbia.

Big business liars, right? Yes—but it was never as if the company got that much wood from there—and at least it was recycled, according to a 2006 CNN report.

So K-C no longer does that. But Greenpeace has only kept up the heat on K-C for buying wood products from entirely legal areas—and calling their practices unsustainable.

But it’s just not true; K-C has more than cleaned up their act. They never really had a bad act to begin with.

Here’s what Greenpeace says: “Most of the pulp Kimberly-Clark uses for its disposable tissue products comes from unsustainable sources … [including] wood fiber from ancient forests like the Canadian Boreal.”

And then they further decry Kleenex for containing “no recycled fiber at all.” Under the heading of what K-C products are made from, the only listed source is “Ancient forests like the Canadian Boreal Forest.”

The way Greenpeace talks about the ancient forest you’d think K-C was making tissue out of the elderly.

And so Greenpeace has called on you to boycott K-C’s products.

While most of the Boreal Forest is legally developable, most of it has not been harvested. Paper giant Weyerhaeuser notes, “After producing wood products for more than a century, 92 percent of Canadian land that was originally forested is still forested. This is more than any other forested nation.”

Why haven’t all those greedy, ancient, tree-hungry paper giants eaten through the forests yet?

Apart from the size of the forest, there are several third-party certification organizations, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, from whom companies seek stamps of approval on the wood fiber they buy. The stamps certify the sustainability of harvest methods.

This isn’t exactly easy on the industry either, as only about one-tenth of the forests available are certified. And, as CNN reported in 2006, K-C says it can’t get enough of what it needs from the favored watchdog FSC to do its job.

The wood fiber that is from the Boreal Forest is usually the byproduct of lumber usage. A company had better use that wood, so why not K-C? And where K-C harvests, including in clear-cutting, it replants—one of the watchdog requirements.

On top of K-C’s generally good forestry record, the company was rated No. 9 on the EPA’s Fortune 500 Green Power List. This is in part due to using its own waste to generate electricity via methane gas—it claims this creates 7 percent of its Everett, Wash., plant’s electricity.

And, as the company notes, among “personal products companies” the DOW Jones Sustainability World Indexes ranked K-C in first place.

Yet Greenpeace still does not like K-C. It must conform to Greenpeace standards. And instead of working with the company to help it continue to find sustainable environmental practices that are good for business, it protests.

Kimberly-Clark is a successful company that is as responsible as any other company in tune with environmental policies and standards. They have to be to continue making a profit and paying roughly 50,000 employees. These are real people with families to feed.

Greenpeace has a much easier road. They don’t have to be for anything. They gather donations via calling foul and propping the Boreal Forest up as an untouchable victim.

If Greenpeace believes the forest is worth protecting, then it ought to convince the Canadian government of the forest’s necessity—something the Canadian Senate is visiting this year. But instead, they have used only rhetoric to slander a decent company.