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Kimberly-Clark Announces Ambitious Sustainable Development Goal For Forest Use

Stocks in this article: KMB

"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. 

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