Published 64 years ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Earlier this year, P&G outlined a comprehensive framework for its leading brands to increase their positive impacts on society and the environment. But forest-conservation NGOs say they need less talk, more action when it comes to P&G's tissue products.
On Tuesday, at Procter & Gamble’s general shareholder meeting in Cincinnati,
CEO David Taylor received
signed by leaders of more than 115 environmental, conservation, consumer and
student groups across the US and Canada, which took the consumer goods giant to
task for of profiting from the “wasteful, globally harmful” practice of turning
trees from the world’s largest, most carbon-rich intact forest into throwaway
tissue products. The letter was delivered to shareholders at P&G’s general
meeting on Tuesday by environmental advocacy NGOs Natural Resources Defense
and Stand.earth, which also organized a rally
outside the meeting.
The action comes amidst increased calls from consumers and climate change
activists consumer goods companies, including P&G, to use their extensive
resources to create and deliver products with recycled and responsibly sourced
content that is better for the planet. Specifically, P&G is under fire for its
Charmin brand, which the NGOs assert uses no recycled content and is made
using 100 percent virgin fiber from ancient trees, much of which is clear-cut
from the Boreal forest (the “Amazon of the North”) — the world's largest land
biome, which covers most of inland Canada, Alaska, and parts of the northern
contiguous United States. More than 200,000 people have signed petitions calling
for P&G to change its sourcing practices and reduce its reliance on virgin
forest fiber for its tissue products.
The activists’ letter — which cited “deep concern that Charmin” and other P&G
brands contain no recycled materials or alternative fibers, and decried the toll
their activities were taking on endangered species and the climate — urged the
company to apply its 181-year history of innovation to create tissue products
that are truly sustainable.
“In the face of the worst environmental crisis our planet has ever faced, there
is simply no excuse for P&G to continue flushing our forests down the toilet
with its unsustainable business practices,” said Shelley Vinyard, Boreal
Corporate Campaign Manager for NRDC. “Nature’s call is loud and clear: Charmin
must stop sourcing from threatened species habitat and forests that are vital to
fixing our climate emergency, now.”
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As it happens, P&G quietly announced last month a new commitment to increase its
use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified fiber from 40 percent
to 75 percent by 2025 for its Charmin, Bounty and Puffs-branded Family
Care products. As part of its commitment, P&G also agreed to help raise
and the importance of responsibly managed forests.
FSC says these new commitments are important for forests in the US and Canada,
where P&G sources much of its fiber. Working with Domtar, P&G has supported
expansion of FSC certification, both to increase FSC supply for its products and
to help reward landowners for their responsible forest management practices. As
demand for FSC-certified fiber grows, landowners across North America will have
additional incentives to earn and maintain certification.
“We applaud P&G for increasing its commitment to using FSC-certified fiber in
its iconic consumer products,” said Corey Brinkema, President of FSC US.
“This new demand will help justify to landowners the value of FSC certification,
delivering positive impacts to forests in the Southern US.”
“The Forest Stewardship Council is the world’s most trusted forest certification
system, which is one of the reasons Procter & Gamble has a preference for
FSC-certified fiber in our family care products,” said Manuel Ceja, Family
Care Sustainability Leader at P&G. “With this new commitment, we see the
opportunity to translate our procurement policies into direct positive impacts
When asked to comment on P&G’s FSC commitment, NRDC’s Vinyard told Sustainable
Brands (SB): “FSC certification is part of the solution, but it’s not
enough. Given the scope of our climate and biodiversity crises, companies like
Procter & Gamble need to take full responsibility for the impact they have on
the planet. What we’re asking of P&G is very simple: Stop sourcing from critical
caribou habitat and reduce their use of virgin forest fiber in their tissue
products. P&G is one of the largest companies in the world, with one of the
largest R&D budgets. They have the power to decide whether they’ll be on the
right side of history when it comes to our climate and our forests.”
FSC says it has recently
reinvented its forest management standard in Canada; it now targets the most
pressing issues threatening Canadian forests — including the woodland caribou
crisis, as well as the rights of Indigenous Peoples, workers’ rights,
conservation and landscape management.
And in addition to ramping up its use of FSC-certified forest fibers, P&G
says it is already
addressing NRDC’s other points, with plans to invest $20 million by 2025 to
accelerate research into non-wood fiber alternatives as well as FSC-certified
fast-growing fibers, with a goal to include more than 50 percent of these
environmentally preferred fibers in its products.
In April, P&G outlined a comprehensive framework and
that its leading brands will take to increase their positive impacts on society
and the environment, as part of the company’s “Ambition 2030”
The framework comprises innovation and communication strategies aimed at inspire
and enable responsible consumption for the five billion consumers served by P&G
each day — part of the ambition involves developing what the company calls a
“Forest Positive” approach for the forest products industry “that is based on
sound science and delivers forest health benefits. As the concept of a Forest
Positive approach is better defined, we will seek to implement Forest Positive
actions that we believe will serve to sustain and expand the protection of
working forests P&G depends on.”
We’ve seen movement from P&G on the environmental improvement front, as well as
the consumer engagement piece of its plan, in several recent initiatives: P&G is
a founding member of TerraCycle’s Loop
— which sees 10 of its best-selling brands delivered to homes in durable,
reusable packaging; and also a founding member of SB’s Brands for Good
aimed at fostering more conscious consumer habits and purchasing behaviors
through better products and messaging. So far, P&G says its
Pampers®, Ariel® and Herbal Essences® brands are progressing in
adopting the Ambition 2030 framework with actions and commitments to help
accelerate sustainable lifestyles. With the addition of a few tissue brands —
made with, say, 100 percent recycled, alternative and/or sustainable materials —
P&G would be that much closer to achieving its ambition.
Published Oct 10, 1959 2pm EDT / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET