The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Greenpeace USA Grants Kimberly-Clark Two Years Unlimited Destruction

Posted by keith on August 6th, 2009

Kleercut Greenwashed

Let’s say I had been punching you in the face for a few years during which time you had been offering no resistance to my violence. After all this time you would be a bloody mess, barely able to speak, see or breathe. Then, for practical reasons, i.e. I couldn’t find any flesh that hadn’t been already mashed and there were a few people hanging about that might hit me back, I said I would stop hitting you. The people who had been hanging about overhear this and walk away — after all, I can be trusted, can’t I? Then, let’s suppose you say that I don’t need to stop hitting you straight away and I can carry on for another couple of years, but which time you might be dead. Is that ok?

Yesterday, I received a breathless email from Daniel Kessler at Greenpeace USA, hailing the actions of a “former” face-puncher extraordinaire: a deal had been done, and all was forgiven…

Hello:

I have big news about forest protection. Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Kleenex, Scott and Cottonelle brands, today announced stronger fiber sourcing standards that will increase conservation of forests globally and will make the company a leader for sustainably produced tissue products. In turn, Greenpeace, which worked with Kimberly-Clark on its revised standards, announced that it will end its “Kleercut” campaign, which focused on the company and its brands.

A video celebrating Kimberly-Clark’s move as well as a history of Greenpeace’s campaign can be found at www.greenpeace.org/kleercut.

Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the company’s wood fiber for tissue products, including the Kleenex brand, from environmentally responsible sources. The revised standards will enhance the protection of Endangered Forests and increase the use of both Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified fiber and recycled fiber. By 2011, Kimberly-Clark will ensure that 40 percent of its North American tissue fiber is either recycled or FSC certified — a 71 percent increase from 2007 levels that represents 600,000 tones of fiber.

Also by the end of 2011, Kimberly-Clark will eliminate the purchase of any fiber from the Canadian Boreal Forest that is not FSC certified. This forest is North America’s largest old growth forest, providing habitat for threatened wildlife such as woodland caribou and a sanctuary for more than one billion migratory birds. It is also the largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon on the planet, storing the equivalent of 27 years worth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, the revised standards reinforce Kimberly-Clark’s long-standing ban on use of wood fiber from illegal sources; adds a preference for post-consumer recycled fiber; and supports expansion of recycling initiatives and the identification, mapping and protection of areas that have the potential to be designated as Endangered or High Conservation Value forests.

Please contact me with any questions,

Daniel
Greenpeace Press Officer
510-501-1779 (cell)
dkessler@greenpeace.org

About Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 150 countries. Every day, 1.3 billion people – nearly a quarter of the world’s population – trust K-C brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds No. 1 or No. 2 share positions in more than 80 countries. To keep up with the latest K-C news and to learn more about the company’s 137-year history of innovation, visit www.kimberly-clark.com.

About Greenpeace

Greenpeace is the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

The story of this “historic” agreement was prefixed by a period of decades of wanton destruction: it wasn’t merely a case of K-C not realising the damage they were doing — they knew exactly what they were doing, it was spelled out in the terms of the campaigners’ articles and petitions and the rapid denudation of the ancient forests they were wiping out. Kimberly-Clark carried out systematic ecocide on a truly gigantic scale. Greenpeace appear to have very short memories:

Go to the Kleercut web site and the banner says, “Case Closed!” But hang on! The press release quite clearly says the following:

- By the end of 2011, Kimberly-Clark will eliminate the purchase of any fiber from the Canadian Boreal Forest that is not FSC certified.

So who will be monitoring the activities of Kimberly-Clark for the next 2 years? There is nothing to suggest that they will be easing up on their destruction any time soon, and no veto on the agreement should K-C decide to increase their usage of virgin or uncertified pulp. It is also vital to note that Greenpeace Nordic’s own report heavily criticised the FSC in Sweden, saying: “The FSC has failed to prevent the destruction of HCVFs [High Conservation Value Forests] in Sweden. Swedish FSC-certified forest companies are misusing the FSC system and…the FSC are sanctioning this mismanagement by failing to stand by the FSC Principles and Criteria”. FSC certification is clearly not adequate, especially when companies wish to cover up their activities.

– By 2011, Kimberly-Clark will ensure that 40 percent of its North American tissue fiber is either recycled or FSC certified

Meaning that 60 percent will still be of extremely dubious origin in two years time, and that the remaining 40 percent could fall under a scheme that Greenpeace (Nordic) have said is unreliable. The original Kimberly-Clark policy document, makes no undertakings to increase its use of recycled materials.

The aforementioned K-C document makes another interesting statement, not mentioned in the Greenpeace USA press release. The press release states, “Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the company’s wood fiber for tissue products, including the Kleenex brand, from environmentally responsible sources.” whereas the Policy Document has a different take on this:

Kimberly-Clark has a goal of purchasing 100% of its wood fiber from suppliers that have had their forestry operations or wood fiber procurement activities certified to one of the following third-party verified forest certification systems. The Corporation will give preference to wood fiber certified under FSC standards.

* For purposes of this policy, “forest certification systems” will mean the following five schemes: Forest Stewardship Coucil (FSC); Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI); Canadian Standards Association’s National Sustainable Forest Management Standards (CSA); Sistema Brasileiro de Certificacao Florestral (CERFLOR) in Brazil; and Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PERF)…

With remarkable precience, Jared Diamond in his 2005 book “Collapse”, said the following about certification schemes:

“The effectiveness of the Forest Stewardship Council has received the ultimate compliment from logging companies opposed to it: they have set up their own competing certification organizations with weaker standards. These include the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in the U.S., set up by the American Forest and Paper Association; the Canadian Standards Association; and the Pan-European Forest Council.”

“All of these ‘knockoffs’ differ from the FSC in that they do not require independent third-party certification, but they permit companies to certify themselves (I’m not joking).”

And there is no indication from K-C what the phrase “give preference to” means in the real world.

So, what we have here is a policy change made by an ecocidal company that, in reality, doesn’t promise anything fundamentally different: as far as you should be concerned, Kimberly-Clark remain an ecocidal company. But making a complete mockery of the facts, is the slavish behaviour of Greenpeace USA, quoting K-C verbatim, including the priceless phrase, “Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 150 countries…to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being.”

Why have Greenpeace done this? Because it makes it look as though they have achieved something significant; ensuring a boost in their revenue stream, and ensuring the paid staff and volunteers feel that what they do within Greenpeace (rather than outside it) justifies their continued efforts in applauding anyone and anything — whatever their history and whatever their other continuing activities — that does anything “environmental”, however symbolic it may be. The message is that we only have to make a few trivial changes in order to prevent ecological collapse. This is bullshit, and the sooner people realise it, the sooner we will be able to escape from the powerful grip the mainstream environmental groups have over the minds of people who only want to make things better.

You can do better than that.

17 Responses to “Greenpeace USA Grants Kimberly-Clark Two Years Unlimited Destruction”

  1. Ilyne Germaise Says:

    Keith,

    Well said. I can’t believe Greenpeace thinks 60% use of virgin fibers is OK. What the heck. Here’s to hoping your net is wide and the message gets out there that KC is still destroying forests and contributing to global warming in a BIG way.

  2. Robert Johnston Says:

    Interesting. It would be good to hear from you what you have achieved for the betterment of the environment by your blogging or your activism. Easy to be an arm chair critic. Harder to get arrested stopping a logging road from being put into a forest or doing 6 months of scientific and investigative research for peer reviewed reports for customers of Kimberly-Clark or standing on street corners with banners and leaflets for hours, days, months and it seems years on end.

    Maybe you should ask someone at Greenpeace what the real change on the ground is and will be. Then post your blog from an informed position.

    Done much environmental campaigning lately?

    [Robert, I worked for Greenpeace in the UK for 4 years, leaving in frustration at the top-down approach to campaigning and the complete lack of genuine direct action. I saw nothing in that 4 years that actually made things better. Subsequently I have spent very little time in my armchair, but am hardly going to shout from the rooftops what I do – that’s how you get stopped. The time I do spend at home I feel is well used communicating to others what I feel should be done (have you read my book? Go to http://www.amatterofscale.com and download it for free.) As you will have read in the article, there is an awful lot of self-justification in the mainstream environmental “movement” (maybe that should be called “static” or “stuck in reverse”), which is not too dissimilar to the corporate line: have a look at http://earth-blog.bravejournal.com/entry/29534 for an expansion on this subject. Keith]

  3. chris irwin Says:

    Kimberly Clarks world admin headquarters is here in KNoxville tn. Greenpeace may back down but we at three rivers earth first! never will.

    [Good call, Chris. Earth First! rocks.]

  4. Juliette Says:

    A couple answers to your points:
    – About FSC. The Greenpeace Nordic report was specifically calling out the Swedish FSC, because they had failed to update their standards. It was not calling out the entire certification worldwide, so this particular report is hardly relevant for North America.
    “The FSC is an international organization that certifies forestry and forest products. It aims to encourage environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. […] However, the loss of Sweden’s old-growth forests demonstrates that the
    system is flawed nationally.”
    – If you worked in Greenpeace before, you know there is no such thing as a free pass, and that the organization will keep a close eye on KC and won’t hesitate to switch their position if KC doesn’t respect its promises. Kind of like what GP Nordic did for the FSC.
    – about the virgin fiber/ recycled/FSC ratio: KC doesn’t have a free pass for the next two years. It is the transition period to obtain at least 40% recycled/FSC fiber. After 2011, they will keep working until achieving 100% “Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the company’s wood fiber for tissue products, including the Kleenex brand, from environmentally responsible sources. The revised standards will enhance the protection of Endangered Forests and increase the use of both Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified fiber and recycled fiber. By the end of 2011, Kimberly-Clark will ensure that 40 percent of its North American tissue fiber – representing an estimated 600,000 tonnes – is either recycled or FSC certified, an increase of more than 70 percent over 2007 levels.”
    You can’t expect them to switch completely one day for the next. A two year period to raise the ratio, with the goal to get to 100%? That sounds quite good to me already. Cherry picking on what “gives preference means” doesn’t give you a point. Giving a preference means picking this source over others, and again, if you think GP is going to back down from this, you don’t know the organization as well as you should.

  5. keith Says:

    I’m granting right to reply on this unless people get offensive. Please feel free to respond to Juliette, who is a Greenpeace employee.

  6. David Says:

    While the plan isn’t 100% perfect (I can’t think of many that are) it IS a huge step in the right direction. It’s easy to sit back at a computer and talk about how dumb people are for celebrating when trees are still being cut, but what does that do for society? The fact is that trees will continue to be cut provided people continue to wipe their noses…so why not embrace tissues that come from regenerated forests instead of virgin forests?

    Juliette, Greenpeace employee or not (doesn’t matter in my opinion), was right in saying that they can’t switch overnight. I’m also certain that she’s right about them not letting K-C go easy (if you know anything about Greenpeace you’d know this for sure).

    While this announcement alone won’t save the entire human race from an environmental holocaust, it should be recognized as a historic compromise between typically conflicting industries, and will have a positive effect on logging practices (also helps set precedents for other companies, etc.). Frankly, ANY change in K-C’s practices should be celebrated.

    I’m not sure what positive contribution you are making by knitpicking an overall inspiring story to death, but hopefully you can see that perfection isn’t always the goal…sometimes compromise is necessary in times of conflict…

  7. Darby Says:

    thanks, Keith. here are some more thoughts on this:

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ahershkowitz/kimberlyclarks_products_remain.html

    quote from the blog linked above:

    “Kimberly-Clark’s new policy is to ensure that 40 percent of its North American fiber is either recycled or certified by FSC, but in order for Kimberly Clark products to be environmentally preferable, the company needs to announce meaningful targets for increasing recycled and post-consumer recycled fiber in their products. The current policy does not guarantee that Kimberly-Clark will in fact increase recycled content in any of its at-home products, most of which do not currently contain any recycled content at all….The most sustainable tissue products are the ones with the highest possible levels of postconsumer recycled content.”

  8. keith Says:

    Thanks, Darby. Have tidied up the link so it works better.

    David, I understand your sentiment, but disagree with two key points: first, that we have to use tissues to blow our noses (I have always used handkerchiefs); second, and more important, that ANY change in practice has to be good. Elsewhere on The Unsuitablog I talk about the *motivation* behind change being the most important thing: in the case of K-C, the motivation is commercial, both in terms of appearing to be green while only making fairly symbolic changes in their sourcing policy, and also manipulating Greenpeace’s naiveté in order to get some pretty amazing PR. There is nothing to suggest K-C have changed their modus operandi; and why should they? They are a huge corporation that exists to make money for shareholders.

    BTW, it *does* matter that Juliette is a Greenpeace employee, because she left (whether this was intentional or not, I don’t know) a gmail address rather than being open about the office from which she was posting; this is a tactic (intentional) that K-C themselves have adopted to try and make out that the general public support their position. Corporations routinely ask their staff to contribute to blogs and write letters as members of the public.

  9. Juliette Says:

    Keith,
    I almost never put my Greenpeace address for the simple reason that I like to keep it spam free. I am no idiot and perfectly knew that my IP address was traceable.
    I write that I am a greenpeace employee when stating opinion, not facts – all I did here was answering your points with facts, and as David pointed out, I did not think it would have changed those facts in any way. I apologize if anyone feels played, it was not my intention.

  10. Arturo Velez Says:

    Great work, Keith!
    KC Mexico was producing a lot of cellulose pulp from sugarcane. Since sugarcane producers were “very political” (defenders of their rights), production lowered to less than 40% of the plant capacity. KC sold all their plants in MX a few years ago.

    **
    Agave fibers contain up to 78% cellulose (trees contain around 50%). One hectare of agave produces 4X more cellulose than the fastest growing eucalyptus (500 tonnes of biomass per hectare per year!!).
    Agave thrives in semiarid marginal land, needs no watering, nor agrochemicals.
    Tens of biofuels and bioproducts can be derived from agave. It is the ideal feedstock for a biorefinery where electricity, biofuiels and bioproducts are produced.
    I am developing a project to produce biocoal for electricity generating facilities (to mitigate GHG emissions) and sell it at a lower price than coal, around forty US dollars per tonne, to make it attractive to the market.
    Best!
    Arturo

  11. Carlo Says:

    All comments I read above about Greenpeace are as Greenpeace was the Government of Canada whose task is to look for a compromise among stakeholders and be compliant with democratic principles that require that such a compromise considers even unlogical and urational “needs” if those are shared by a significant part of voters.
    Greenpeace is a free association that tipically asks for support presenting itself as a no-compromise knight in defense of nature.
    I supported Greenpeace and I feel betraied.
    Why should one look for a compromise to save an old-growth forest in the country that has probably the highest per-capita extension of forest in the world, millions of hectars of cheap degraded forests where to expand production forestry whithout ANY need to mortally wound the largest extension of primary boreal forest, and a very high standard of life with NO need for
    sacrifying a natural juwel for cleaning asses? If this happens in front of who has no moral, humanitarian, social, economic justification, is like to renounce to ALL actions in defense of the environment. Can you find all around the world a brighter example of unuseful envirnmental degradation for which a compromise was less justified?

    [Thanks, Carlo, your English is better than my Italian, and I completely agree :-) ]

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  13. walkerp Says:

    Sometimes you just have to compromise. The two parties were negotiating. I’m sure there are many people at K-C (and in the forest industry) who are very unhappy with the concessions they gave as well.

    I think it’s important to keep everyone’s toes to the fire on these issues, but at the same time, you should also recognize pragmatic success and respect it. Applaud the K-C agreement, applaud Greenpeace and the get right back into the fight.

    Now is not a time for internal division among the vast spectrum of people who care about the planet.

  14. keith Says:

    How can you compromise about the future of an ecosystem? There are no grey areas; one route is destructive, the other is not – K-C are still destroying, that is not a compromise, it is a cop out!

    And how can there be “internal division” amongst a non-existant group? I am not in the same group as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, WWF or FoE – all of them accept the lie that industrial civilization can be sustainable.

    Respectfully, nonetheless,

    Keith

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  16. dael Says:

    Can they utlilze Canadian hemp for paper pulp?

    This would optimize national resources of the farmers and industry way into the future.

    I did a sear ch on hemp on this page and nothing came up.

    Am I losing it here? OMG

    [Probably because I haven’t mentioned hemp, Dael. But it’s definitely a way forwards on a smaller scale – we keep wiping our asses and blowing our noses with great wads of tissue, when we could easily use far less, and different things.]

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