Kimberly-Clark and Greenpeace agree to historic measures to protect Canada's Boreal forest

Page - August 4, 2009
5 August 2009

Canada's precious Boreal Forest is better conserved today. So are ancient forests around the world.

At a joint news conference in Washington DC, Greenpeace and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the world’s largest tissue-product manufacturer, announced an historic agreement that will ensure greater protection and sustainable management of Canada's Boreal Forest. The agreement also will stand out as a model for forest-products companies worldwide.

A view of an intact part of the boreal forest

Protection for the Boreal Forest in Canada

Canada's Boreal Forest is North America's largest ancient forest and provides habitat for threatened wildlife such as woodland caribou, wolverine and over one billion migratory birds. The new agreement ensures that Kimberly-Clark, which makes Kleenex-brand products, will no longer be purchasing pulp from the three million hectare Kenogami and Ogoki Forests in northern Ontario unless strict ecological criteria are met. These two areas within key zones of intact forest have been at the center of Greenpeace's Kleercut campaign.

As part of the agreement, Greenpeace announced that its nearly five-year-long Kleercut campaign against Kimberly-Clark is ended.

The campaign in time

Greenpeace quotes from the news conference in Washington, DC:

"Today's announcement shows that perseverance and dedication can achieve great environmental victories even after many years of campaigning."

"We're gone from conflict and controversy to collaboration and this new policy is a first product of the new relationship we have with Kimberly-Clark."

"I am looking forward to working with Kimberly-Clark on the full implementation of this policy. Because of Kimberly-Clark's size - it uses more than 4.5 million tonnes of fibre and pulp each year to make it products -, this new policy will have a profound effect on the global forest products industry."

"I expect to a large ripple effect from this policy and its implementation for years to come. We have moved a mountain and that is going to have impacts around the world."

-Richard Brooks, Greenpeace Canada's forest campaign coordinator

The news conference was held at Washington DC.

Major news outlets from Canada and the United States attended.

The success of the discussions between Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark means a movement away from conflict to a new collaborative relationship to further promote forest conservation, responsible forest management, and the use of recycled fiber for the manufacture of tissue products.

The power of activists and market pressure

Greenpeace's Kleercut campaign was launched in November 2004.

This campaign to help protect ancient forests in Canada and globally applied pressure on the company via the marketplace and its large customers and consumers. In order to highlight the issue, hundreds of protests took place globally, resulting in more than 50 activists arrested in acts of peaceful civil disobedience. Scientific and exposé reports, media mobilization and shareholder engagement were also an important part of the campaign.

This work and dedication reached a successful conclusion with Kimberly-Clark's release of the strongest paper policy by one of the world's top three tissue product manufacturers.

Greenpeace's second major forest success this year

The agreement with Kimberly-Clark is the second major victory this year for Greenpeace's forest campaign. At the end of March, Greenpeace celebrated an enormous success- the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. It is the most comprehensive rainforest conservation plan in North America and protects an area nearly the size of Belgium.

The success was the direct result of a decade-long campaign that thousands of Greenpeace supporters joined.

Implementing the Kimberly-Clark policy

Implementation of the policy will lead to protection of the world's most endangered forests, increased support for sustainable forest management through Forest Stewardship Council certification and the increased use of recycled fiber in Kimberly-Clark products.

During the evolution of this policy, Kimberly-Clark stopped buying more than 325,000 tonnes of pulp a year from logging operations in the Kenogami and Ogoki Forests. The company managing these forests was unwilling to protect endangered forest areas in them and supply Kimberly-Clark with Forest Stewardship Council certified pulp.

The Boreal Forest and climate change

Protection of the Boreal Forest is crucial to world efforts to stop climate change. This forest is the largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon on the planet, storing 27 years worth of greenhouse gas emissions or 186 billion tonnes. If this carbon is released into the atmosphere it will add to the threat of catastrophic climate change.

Under the policy Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of ensuring that 100 per cent of the fibre used in its products will be from environmentally responsible sources. It will greatly increase its use of recycled fibre and fibre from forest certified to Forest Stewardship Council standards. By 2011, it will also increase the use of recycled and FSC fibre [from North America sources] to 40 per cent from 29.7 per cent in 2007. By 2012, the company will no longer use pulp from the Boreal Forest unless is it certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council.

The full policy and its annex can be downloaded here

Please join us in thanking Kimberly-Clark for supporting conservation of the Boreal Forest by sending its CEO a congratulations email

Click here to see The Quick Facts about Greenpeace's Kleercut Campaign

Click here to see the Kimberly-Clark's Global Fibre Procurement Policy

Click here to see the news release

Click here to see a video of great news from Richard Brooks