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Kimberly-Clark sets sustainability goal to reduce its forest fiber footprint, to transition 50% of wood fiber from natural forests to alternate sources

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Kimberly-Clark sets sustainability goal to reduce its forest fiber footprint, to transition 50% of wood fiber from natural forests to alternate sources

June 18, 2012 - 02:02
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DALLAS, June 18, 2012 (Press Release) -Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB) today laid out a bold vision to significantly reduce its Forest Fiber Footprint, including a goal to transition at least 50 percent of wood fiber sourced from natural forests to alternate fiber sources by 2025. By committing to reduce its Forest Fiber Footprint, Kimberly-Clark adds to an already impressive history of leadership in protecting the world's forest resources and ending deforestation globally. This broad, new initiative will help protect biodiversity and reduce the impacts of fiber that the company uses while ensuring the fiber is sourced in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Equally importantly, the initiative will also help insulate the company from continuing volatile price fluctuations in the world fiber market. The announcement was made in conjunction with the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"We continue to strongly support sustainable forestry where those materials are needed but at the same time we are aggressively exploring high-potential alternatives to the traditional fiber sources used in our industry, while maintaining the high quality standards our customers and consumers have come to expect," says Suhas Apte, Vice President, Global Sustainability for Kimberly-Clark. "In the long run, we hope that one day all of our fiber needs will be met from sources that collectively have maximum land use efficiencies while minimizing impact on people and our planet."

In 2011, the company used nearly 750 thousand metric tons of primary wood fiber sourced from natural forests. With this new commitment, Kimberly-Clark pledges to cut the amount sourced from natural forests in half by 2025, an amount equivalent to the fiber used to manufacture over 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 fiber for its products.

"Taking pressure off of natural forests is a key measure to helping the world's remaining forests and curbing deforestation. If done right, Kimberly-Clark's innovative practices could be groundbreaking and potentially set a new high bar for other companies to meet," said Richard Brooks, Greenpeace Forest Campaign Coordinator. "We applaud Kimberly-Clark on this initiative."

As global demand for the world's forest resources increases, identifying and using fiber 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. 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 9 billion by 2050, pressure on these important resources continues to grow. Therefore, Kimberly-Clark is pledging to innovate creatively for the future by being more flexible in its fiber usage.

"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, fiber and fuel - so this announcement is a welcomed initiative that builds on Kimberly-Clark's commitment to responsible forestry," said Kerry Cesareo, Managing Director of World Wildlife Fund's Forests program. "While we remain cautious in our optimism regarding alternative fibers as a strategy to reduce the company's forest fiber footprint, we all need to learn to 'do more with less'."

Alternate Fiber Sources

To reduce its Forest Fiber Footprint, Kimberly-Clark is pursuing high-potential fiber alternatives innovative product solutions 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:

  • Andrex Eco bath tissue was launched in the United Kingdom which contains 10% bamboo and 90% recycled fiber.

  • K-C Professional is currently test marketing tissue products which contain 20% bamboo in North America.

  • K-C has also recently signed a development agreement with Booshoot, a biotech firm in Washington State and the global leader in bamboo forestry. The agreement will enable further exploration into the supply chain to manufacture K-C tissue products containing bamboo using Booshoot's unique bamboo propagation technology.

  • Rapidly growing tree plantation sourced fiber.

"Waste" fibers that are currently discarded or considered of low value such as agricultural crop remnants that remain in the field after harvesting:

  • K-C Professional is currently test marketing tissue products made in part with alternative fibers including wheat straw in North America.

  • K-C is also exploring alternative processing technologies and supply chain solutions for using such waste fibers.

To ensure it understands and responsibly manages the impacts of its decisions, K-C has commissioned a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and broader sustainability risk assessment with the Georgia Institute of Technology.

"While K-C realizes that meeting its aspirational goal to significantly reduce its use of fiber 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 Fiber Footprint," added Apte.

About Rio+20

Kimberly-Clark is one of 20 major companies representing $500 billion in combined revenues that have come together to make a powerful statement that safeguarding Earth's natural assets is a business imperative. Through a collective effort organized by the Corporate Eco Forum and The Nature Conservancy, the companies are undertaking ambitious initiatives to safeguard ecosystems in ways that advance core business interests-reducing risks, controlling costs, protecting brands, and fueling growth.

About Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 175 countries. Every day, nearly a quarter of the world's population trust K-C's brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds the No. 1 or No. 2 share position in more than 80 countries. To keep up with the latest K-C news and to learn more about the company's 140-year history of innovation, visit, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.