Survey of European tissue manufacturers

Since 2004, WWF has been challenging Europe’s leading tissue manufacturers to assume environmental leadership.

Three out of four consumer tissue products in Europe are made by just five companies: Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark, Metsä Tissue, Procter & Gamble, and SCA Tissue.

Their scale and purchasing power means that these companies have a particular responsibility to do all they can to minimize environmental impacts and to positively influence the future of our forests.

The survey

Following an initial scoring in 2005, WWF re-evaluated the environmental performance of the 5 companies in 2006. 

This survey showed that while some had made improvements to their environmental performances, many gaps remained.

Europe in Focus

  • Every year, Europeans consume 200,000 truckloads of tissue products that end up either flushed down the toilet or in landfills.
  • If you stretched out all the tissues used in Europe in one year, it would reach to the moon and back 635 times, and travel around the world 12,000 times.
  • Europeans use about four times as many napkins, facial tissues and paper towels as the average world citizen.
  • Unsustainable timber harvesting, illegal logging and land rights conflicts are a fact in many of the pulp-producing regions used by Europe's tissue manufacturers.
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Green: on the right track
Yellow: showing encouraging signs but still major issues to address 
Red: needs substantial improvement

Key results

1. Only one tissue giant – SCA Tissue – was able to provide adequate assurance that they promote forest management to the highest environmental and social standards and actively avoid forest destruction.   

All the other companies have serious gaps in their sourcing policies. Metsä Tissue, Georgia Pacific, Kimberly Clark and Procter and Gamble need to develop more convincing and systematic mechanisms to ensure that they avoid sourcing from controversial and problematic sources.

Find out how the companies scored on wood sourcing


2. The tissue giants are showing some signs of improvement, but they need to do more to minimize their environmental impacts.

WWF welcomed the progress made since 2005 on addressing at least some of the issues it had raised. Whereas none of the companies passed the 50% mark in 2005, two companies overall (SCA Tissue and Metsä Tissue) were able to reach over 50% in 2006, but only SCA Tissue reached a green “on the right track” score.

All of the companies had made improvements. To varying degrees they had become more transparent towards WWF, increased their reporting on European tissue production on their websites, improved their sourcing policies and become more aware about the need for addressing controversial wood sources, made future commitments on recycling, and commitments to reduce pollution.

But not all companies had made the same level of effort to address the issues raised in the 2005 assessment and therefore the difference between the companies' performance had grown.

All companies still had areas of weakness, as the scores indicated. 

Find out how the companies improved

3. The companies need to give consumers a choice and need to be accountable to the public.

At present, they do not adequately inform consumers about the recycled content of the products they sell. The information now on their websites and in their public reports is improving, but more is needed.

Find out how the companies score on transparency

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