Alternative Fibers

Going beyond the commitments in our current fiber-sourcing policy, Kimberly-Clark is exploring alternate sources of fiber in order to continue to provide the high-quality products our consumers demand, to strengthen our tissue business by enabling increased fiber flexibility, and to foster sustainability of the world’s natural forests.

We continue to strongly support sustainable forest management by adhering to our fiber procurement policy, which holds FSC certification in the highest regard.

At the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012, we announced our intention to transition at least 50 percent of our wood fiber sourced from natural forests to alternate fiber sources by 2025. This ambitious goal will require us to undertake initiatives such as maximizing our use of wood from plantations, increasing our use of waste by-products, and incorporating land use–efficient, rapidly renewable fibers. This move may also provide business advantage as regards fiber flexibility and, ideally, reductions in cost volatility.

“If done right, Kimberly-Clark’s commitment to reduce its demand on fiber from natural forests could be groundbreaking and potentially set a new high bar for other companies to meet. We applaud Kimberly-Clark on this initiative.”

Richard Brooks
Forest Campaign Director, Greenpeace

While we are aware that realizing our goal of significantly reducing our use of fiber sourced from natural forests will be challenging, we are committed to working with key stakeholders, such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to define and develop sustainable alternative fibers.

Kimberly-Clark is pursuing several high-potential fiber alternatives, including those from plants such as bamboo that make efficient and sustainable use of land, as well as “agricultural waste” fibers such as wheat straw.

growth rates

Kimberly-Clark signed a development agreement in September 2012 with Provitro Biosciences (formerly Booshoot), a biotech company in Washington State and a global leader in advanced plant-propagation technologies. The agreement will enable us to explore manufacturing our tissue products with fiber derived from Provitro’s proprietary bamboo-propagation technology.

Through the partnership, we will work with Provitro to develop high-yield fiber alternatives that can be grown in the U.S. at scale and in environmentally and socially responsible ways. Provitro will provide bamboo “starts” that Kimberly-Clark will grow in pilot projects designed to test the viability of several species of giant bamboo, including Moso, as scalable and sustainable tree-fiber alternatives. Moso grows to almost 100 feet and is harvestable in less than a decade, producing several times the fiber of traditional timber and capturing four times as much carbon dioxide as most trees.

To ensure that we understand and responsibly manage the impacts of alternative fibers, we commissioned a life-cycle analysis of bamboo, wheat straw and several other alternative natural fibers that was conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012. We have commissioned WWF-US to do additional sustainability work in 2013 related to potential impacts on carbon sequestration, biodiversity and ecosystem services of various alternative natural fibers.

Using Alternative Fiber

In 2012, Kimberly-Clark launched three product lines containing alternative fibers:

Andrex Eco bath tissue, introduced in the UK in May 2012, is made from 90 percent recycled fiber and 10 percent bamboo. This is the first time that bamboo has been used in toilet tissue by a major brand in the UK Andrex Eco is FSC-certified, assuring that the entire supply chain, including the bamboo, is independently certified. Its packaging also is made from recycled materials and can itself be recycled.

Kimberly-Clark Professional began offering Kleenex and Scott brand product lines that contain 20 percent wheat straw or bamboo to its North American business-to-business partners in January 2012.

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