Dear EarthTalk: I saw a TV ad for toilet paper with no cardboard core to save paper. I understand that green groups recently struck a deal with Kimberly-Clark to protect eastern U.S. forests from decimation for, among other things, toilet paper. Can you tell me if any efforts are underway to protect Canada's boreal forest, also long used for making tissue paper?--K. Douglas, Winthrop, ME
In August 2009, Kimberly-Clark, the paper giant behind the Kleenex, Cottonelle and Scott brands and the largest manufacturer of tissue products in the world, gave in to pressure from Greenpeace and other environmental groups to clean up its act in regard to how it sources its wood fiber and how much recycled content it includes in its products. After various forms of public haranguing from Greenpeace, the company committed to sourcing 40 percent of its North American tissue fiber--some 600,000 tons yearly--from recycled sources or from forests certified as sustainable by the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Also, by the end of 2011 Kimberly-Clark will stop buying non-FSC-certified wood fiber from Canada's vast but fast-shrinking boreal forest--the largest old growth forest on the continent.
One outgrowth of this landmark agreement is Kimberly-Clark's launch of Scott Naturals Tube-Free toilet paper which, to reduce waste is wound in such a way that it doesn't need cardboard tubes. The company estimates that the 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced yearly in the U.S. account for some 160 million pounds of trash--most of us discard instead of recycle them. By eliminating the tubes, the company hopes to both save cardboard and allow customers to use every last piece of toilet paper, since the last one won't have any glue on it to stick to the roll. The tube-free TP is being sold initially at Walmart and Sam's Club stores in the Northeastern U.S. and will be launched nationally and beyond if it catches on with consumers.
Kimberly-Clark's green awakening will no doubt benefit the tree farms and forests of the Southeast--the locus of...