Greenpeace Investigation Exposes Kimberly-Clark's Legacy of Forest Destruction

Despite Policies & Pledges, Tissue Giant Continues to Fuel Forest Destruction

Media release - April 17, 2008
A Greenpeace investigation into paper company Kimberly-Clark (K-C) documents forest degradation, disappearance of threatened species, and growing conflicts with First Nation communities in Canada’s Kenogami forest, Greenpeace said today. These revelations represent a violation of a company pledge to not use “environmentally significant” wood in Kimberly-Clark products. The Kenogami forest is part of the North American Boreal forest, one of the largest remaining ancient forests on the planet. Today, at Kimberly-Clark’s shareholder meeting in Irving, Texas, Greenpeace is demanding that the company end its unsustainable fiber sourcing policies and maximize recycled materials in its products.

The Greenpeace investigation, entitled "Cut and Run: Kimberly-Clark's Legacy of Environmental Devastation and Social Conflilct in the Kenogami Forest," used government documents, independent audits, public records and satellite mapping.  It found that K-C consumed hundreds of thousands of tons of tree fiber from the Kenogami forest to make its disposable products, including Kleenex tissues. K-C directly managed and logged the forest for nearly 70 years, until it sold Kenogami operations in 2004.  Since K-C began logging there, 71 percent of the Kenogami has been fragmented and woodland caribou have been driven from 67 percent of the forest.  If current logging rates continue, caribou are expected to die off in 95 percent of the Kenogami in the next 20 years.  A government taskforce classified over 80 percent of the Kenogami of the forest as inadequately protected and 78 percent of the forest as high priority for conservation.

"Kimberly-Clark has for years made claims of environmental leadership, but our investigation shows those claims are untrue," said Rolf Skar, senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace.  "The ancient Kenogami forest remains one of K-C's primary sources of wood pulp.  The irresponsible logging, driving out of threatened wildlife and conflict with native communities in the Kenogami are a badge of shame for Kimberly-Clark."

Nine Canadian First Nations communities are involved in a legal case against the Ontario provincial government and the companies managing the Kenogami forest. The native communities seek to become a part of the forest's planning, management and economic benefits, having treaty rights to these benefits which have regularly been ignored.  A member of a First Nations community dependent on the Kenogami forest is attending the K-C annual general meeting to share the plight of his people and the forest with shareholders.

"Kimberly-Clark must increase the amount of recycled content in its products, reducing pressure on forests like the Kenogami," added Skar.  "By adopting policies that protect ancient forests and getting prior and informed consent of First Nations communities before logging, K-C can take a real step toward becoming an industry leader in sustainability."

A shareholder resolution sponsored by Harrington Investments to create a board level sustainability committee also will be voted on at the K-C annual general meeting.  Greenpeace supports this resolution to protect forests, safeguard communities and build long-term solutions to Kimberly-Clark's unsustainable wood fiber use.  

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Notes: The full investigation is available at www.greenpeace.org/cutandrun

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