WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2019 — A new report takes the largest tissue sector companies to task for destroying North American forests and exacerbating the climate crisis. “The Issue with Tissue” reveals Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Georgia-Pacific use zero recycled content in their toilet paper, relying on ancient trees clear-cut from the Canadian Boreal Forest (the “Amazon of the North”). The average American uses three rolls of toilet paper a week – and major brands’ refusal to create sustainable products makes consumers unwittingly complicit in flushing forests down the toilet.
The report features a sustainability scorecard, assigning “F” grades to tissue brands Charmin, Quilted Northern, and Angel Soft. Brands using recycled paper content, including 365, Seventh Generation, and Natural Value got “A” grades. The scorecard also ranks facial tissues and paper towels.
This “tree-to-toilet pipeline” harms Indigenous Peoples and iconic species like boreal caribou. The boreal forest stores nearly two times as much carbon as all the world’s oil reserves combined. Toilet paper and tissue manufacturers rely on forests even though they have resources to create products with recycled and responsibly sourced content.
Charmin, the nation’s leading toilet paper brand made by Procter & Gamble, is called out for refusing to increase its use of recycled materials.
Shelley Vinyard, report co-author and boreal corporate campaign manager, NRDC: “We’re calling on Procter & Gamble, the maker of America’s leading toilet paper brand, to stop flushing forests down the toilet. Procter & Gamble has the innovation resources to bring Charmin into the 21st century; the question is whether the company will embrace its reputation as an innovator to create sustainable products using recycled material instead of clear-cut trees.”
Deputy Grand Chief Mandy Gull, Cree Nation: “As Indigenous Peoples in the boreal forest, we live on the food from our land. The forest is our supermarket, with aisles of berries and meats and fish. My hope is that, once people know their choice of tissue will determine whether food will be there for us tomorrow, they will help protect our homelands by switching to recycled and responsibly sourced products.”
The Canadian boreal contains some of the world’s remaining intact forests, and is home to over 600 Indigenous communities, boreal caribou, and billions of songbirds. The loss of intact boreal forest is impacting Indigenous Peoples’ ways of life and driving the decline of caribou and other species.
Tzeporah Berman, director, International Program, Stand.earth: “As a Canadian, I am horrified that Charmin and other leading brands are making toilet paper out of trees clearcut from ancient boreal forests. These forests are some of the most important intact ecosystems left on earth — they are the breeding grounds for the majority of North America’s songbirds and home to threatened species such as boreal caribou — and we are flushing them down the toilet?”
Solutions to the tree-to-toilet pipeline already exist. Instead of relying on virgin fiber, tissue companies can use recycled content or sustainably sourced alternative fibers. These materials can dramatically reduce our destructive impact on the boreal and other forests in North America and the world.
NRDC and Stand.earth are calling on Procter & Gamble and other manufacturers to shift to recycled content and sustainable alternative fibers, and to ensure their supply chain protects boreal caribou habitat and respects Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Now is the time for action to mitigate the climate crisis and protect the world’s remaining forests, rather than flushing our vital forest ecosystems away.