Kimberly-Clark, the company behind personal care products such as Kleenex and Huggies, has announced a new initiative to cut the amount of wood fiber it sources from natural forests in half by 2025. To reduce its forest footprint, and reflecting its global sustainability initiatives, the company will shift to alternate fiber sources.
The announcement was made at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development earlier this month in Brazil. In addition to using alternative fiber sources, the company is focusing on alternative processing technologies as well as supply chain solutions that will aid in utilizing materials in a sustainable way.
“In the long run, we hope that 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,” said Suhas Apte, the company’s vice president of global sustainability, in a statement.
The company announced that last year, it used approximately 750 metric tons of primary wood fiber sourced from natural forests. Reducing that amount by half equates to the amount of fiber used for the production of over 3.5 billion toilet paper rolls.
The newly announced sustainable effort aims to protect biodiversity and reduce the company’s deforestation role. A 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment of the state and world’s forests details how the high-rates of deforestation and successive carbon emissions are taking a toll on forest biodiversity.
Kimberly-Clark’s forest fiber goal is reflective of its larger leadership role in sustainability and supply chain management.
In May, the Distribution Business Management Association awarded the company with the 2012 Circle of Excellence award for its Sustainability 2015 strategy, which features three pillars: people, planet, and products.
New Developments and Alternative Fiber Sources
One new sustainable product by Kimberly-Clark for the U.K. market, Andrex Eco bath tissue, is constructed from 10 percent bamboo and 90 percent recycled fiber. The product is an example of Kimberly-Clark’s several high-potential fiber alternatives, which include plants that make efficient and sustainable use of land and resources.
Moreover, the company is looking beyond bamboo and is currently working with fibers that are typically regarded as by-product waste, such discarded crops and harvesting remnants, including wheat straw.
It will utilize such plants without the intent to displace food crops or lead to loss of natural forests, and is currently test-marketing in America tissue products that contain 20 percent bamboo. It recently signed an agreement with biotech firm Booshoot, which provides a sustainable fiber replacement for the pulp, paper and energy textile and hardwood markets. The agreement will merge eco-efforts with sustainable technology.
“The agreement will enable further exploration into the supply chain to manufacture tissue products containing bamboo using Booshoot’s unique bamboo propagation technology,” according to Kimberly-Clark’s statement.