Kimberly-Clark Corp., the paper products giant that owns brands Kleenex and Huggies, has committed to cut the amount of wood fiber it uses from natural forests by 50 percent by 2025.
K-C, which announced the sustainability goal in conjunction with the United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil, made the commitment to help reduce the impacts of fiber the company uses and to insulate it from continuing volatile price fluctuations in the world fiber market.
The company last year used nearly 750,000 metric tons of primary wood fiber sources from natural forests. K-C says that by 2025 it will cut this figure in half, and get 50 percent of its wood fiber from alternate sources – enough to make more than 3.5 billion rolls of toilet paper.
To reduce its forest fiber footprint, K-C is exploring using plants that make efficient and sustainable use of land and resources without displacing food crops or negatively impacting natural forests. K-C has commissioned the Georgia Institute of Technology to conduct a life cycle analysis and broader sustainability risk assessment for its alternative fiber decisions.
K-C recently signed a development agreement with biotech firm Booshoot to investigate ways to manufacture tissue products containing bamboo. K-C subsidiary Kimberly-Clark Professional is test marketing tissue products in North America that contain 20 percent bamboo. In the UK, Kimberly-Clark launched Andrex Eco bath tissue, a product containing 10 percent bamboo and 90 percent recycled fiber.
K-C also is exploring ways to use waste fibers, such as agricultural crops that remain in the field after harvesting, in products. For example, K-C Professional is test marketing tissue products made in part with alternative fibers, including wheat straw. K-C is exploring alternative processing technologies and supply chain solutions for using such waste fibers.
The company recently reported it has made significant progress on some of its 2015 sustainability goals, including its commitment to source 100 percent of its virgin wood fiber from certified suppliers and to achieve zero-waste-to-landfill status.
K-C’s 2011 corporate sustainability report, which was released in May, says the company sourced 99.9 percent of its fiber for such suppliers last year. K-C had just one remaining non-certified supplier by the end of 2011. K-C stopped purchasing from this supplier at the beginning of this year.