Kimberly-Clark Professional announced last week that it is the first major tissue manufacturer to introduce products that contain non-tree fibers to the North American market. The new products are part of its Kleenex and Scott lines, and will be showcased at Greenbuild 2012. The new products include 20 percent non-tree fibers – bamboo and wheat straw. Both bamboo and wheat straw meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s definition of “rapidly renewable” fibers since they grow back in less than 10 years.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is happy with the announcement. “We are encouraged by the continued willingness of Kimberly-Clark Professional to question industry norms and seek new solutions for some of the complexities related to forestry and sustainability,” said Kerry Cesareo, managing director of World Wildlife Fund’s Forests program.
Cesareo added, “We hope an increasing number of companies will follow Kimberly-Clark’s lead and engage in new conversations about how we can collectively navigate sustainable paths in a resource-constrained world.”
Howard Connell, global sustainability leader for Kimberly-Clark Professional, said that using alternative fibers in its products is an “exciting next step in our continuing commitment to fiber leadership as well as for the industry as a whole.”
Kimberly-Clark Professional has the largest amount of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified towel and tissue products in North America. Almost 97 percent of its towel and tissue products have FSC certification. In 2009, the parent company, Kimberly-Clark Corporation adopted a global fiber procurement policy. As part of the policy, the company committed to using “environmentally responsible” fiber from:
- Wood pulp purchased from suppliers who have achieved forest certification
- Wood pulp that we have manufactured from logs or chips obtained from forest-certified suppliers
- Recycled fiber recovered from pre-consumer or post-consumer waste paper
Kimberly-Clark Corporation began implementing the new policy by setting a goal to use 40 percent of recycled fiber or FSC-certified wood fiber in all of its North American tissue products by the end of 2011. The company’s goal is to purchase 100 percent of its virgin wood fiber from suppliers that are certified.
Kimberly-Clark Corporation aims to use less petroleum based materials
Kimberly-Clark Corporation continues to seek ways to make its products more sustainable. One way is by decreasing its use of petroleum based materials by reducing the amount of polymers used to make its products, and through converting waste polymers into pellets to be reused in its products. In addition, the company states that it “strives” to sell waste polymers that can’t be used for recycling or energy recovery.
The company continues to conduct research on alternatives to petroleum based materials. In particular, Kimberly-Clark is researching three options: polymers made from renewable materials, degradable polymers for use in flushable products that provide more flexible disposal options, and recycled polymers to extend the useful life of natural resources.
Image credit: Kimberly Clark Professional