Scores on recycling and efficient use of wood fibres 2006

The information below provides insights into the scoring results of Georgia Pacific, Kimberly Clark, Metsä Tissue, Procter and Gamble and SCA Tissue

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GREEN: on the right track
YELLOW: showing encouraging signs but still major issues to address
RED: need substantial improvements


1) Recycling

The problem:
The use of virgin fibres in "throw-away" tissue products is a wasteful misuse of timber, at a time when forests are threatened around the world.


Tissue products cannot be recycled after use, for understandable reasons. Therefore recycled wood fibres should be used as much as possible in the production of tissue. WWF considers it wasteful and unnecessary for wood fibres to make their way directly from the forest into the bathroom where they are flushed down the toilet.

The solution:
A tree that is cut down to provide wood fibres for paper products should have as long a "lifespan" as possible, by being used first for instance as writing paper or newspaper and then by being recycled to produce products such as toilet paper.

WWF advocates the collection of recyclable wood fibres from the end-consumer. This so-called “post-consumer” wood fibre waste is a resource, the use of which should be maximized in the production of end-of-lifecycle products like tissue products.

Use of recycled fibres in tissue products should not only be "the right thing to do" but also make business sense.

The Tissue Giants need to be part of the solution. They need to:

  • significantly increase their recycling levels and the usage of post-consumer waste for tissue products.
  • proactively stimulate the market for recycled tissue products, by addressing both demand and supply issues.

The Scoring results:
WWF has investigated how the companies handle this issue with the following results…

ln the 2005 scoring, WWF criticised the alarmingly low levels of recycled fibre use in household tissue products. The 2006 scoring shows that, while there has been a slight overall increase over 2005 levels in the recycled content of tissue products used in offices, hotels, trains etc. (Away from home products), there has been a further overall decline in the recycled fibre content of consumer/household products since 2005.
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Metsa Tissue
  • increased their overall levels of recycled fibre use by 3% to 55%.
  • reported a slight increase in recycled fibre use for Away From Home products to 80%
  • is the only company that has actually increased recycled fibre use for consumer products by 3% to 53%.

SCA Tissue
  • increased their overall level of recycled fibre use by 1.4% to 46.4%,
  • reports an increase in recycled fibre use for Away From Home products by 5% to 77%
  • reports a decrease their recycled fibre use for consumer products by 4% to 31%

Georgia Pacific
  • same overall levels of recycling as in 2005, which remain at 47%,
  • reports the same levels of recycling in consumer products, which remain at the 2005 level of 20%.

Kimberly Clark
  • increased their overall levels of recycled fibre use by 1% to 39%,
  • reports no change to their 2005 Away From Home recycling levels of 88%
  • reports a decrease in their recycled fibre use for consumer products by 2% to 21%.

Procter and Gamble
  • Reports no change in overall recycled fibre use (15%) or consumer product fibre use (15%) since 2005. Please note that Procter and Gamble does not produce away from home products

The above figures indicate a growing trend by the tissue giants to satisfy a real or perceived consumer demand for luxury tissue. Unfortunately high quality is often incorrectly associated with virgin fibre tissue products.

WWF further noted a clear reluctance by the tissue giants to disclose recycled fibre content of their branded products (those that we all buy in the supermarket).

Consumer and retail customers need to signal to the companies that people care for the environment and that they will by preference buy high quality products which include recycled fibre content.
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Do the tissue giants use post-consumer recycled fibre for tissue production?

In 2006 more companies reported their use of post-consumer waste than in 2005. While WWF welcomes the increase in transparency on this issue, it concludes, that the current usage of recycled fibres collected after their end-use is at too low a level. 

Different toilet paper at home and in the office

Most people are unaware that there is a difference between the tissue products they use during the day - at their place of work, at railway stations, airports etc ("away from home products") and those they buy for home use ("consumer products"). Although these tissues are produced by the same companies, the level of recycled fibres is dramatically different as the graph above shows.

Many consumer products contain little if any recycled fibre. - recycled figures for consumer products only show the European average and there are many products which do not contain any recycled fibres at all.

On the other hand products sold to offices, schools and institutions contain high levels of recycled fibres.

There is no reason why less recycled fibres should be used for our private homes.

Find out what you should buy.
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Steps in the right direction - commitments by the companies on recycled fibre use

Whereas in 2005 only one company, Georgia Pacific, made any commitment to increase recycled fibre use, in 2006 all the companies except Procter and Gamble made some form of commitment or at least positive indications to increase the use of recycled fibre in the future.

  • SCA Tissue gave a general commitment to increase recycling, although the company did not set any quantitative targets. SCA also made positive indications about increasing post-consumer recycling levels.

  • Metsa Tissue has put an official commitment in its new sourcing policy to primarily use recycled fibres

  • Georgia Pacific renewed a quantitative and timebound commitment from 2005 to increase recycling, particularly recycled fibre use in consumer product. WWF notes that no actual progress on this issue has been detected in the company’s recycling levels to date. Georgia Pacific also gave a quantitative and time bound commitment to increase the use of post-consumer fibres.

  • Kimberly Clark has not indicated a clear target for increasing recycling overall, however it gave a quantitative and time bound commitment to increase its levels of post-consumer fibre use. Kimberly Clark already reported an increase in the use of post-consumer fibres since 2005.

  • Procter and Gamble has no intention to increase their levels of recycled fibre use. It indicates a focus on its fibre efficiency strategy

WWF welcomes commitments made by the companies as steps in the right direction towards increased use of recycled and post-consumer fibres and urges the companies to follow through with positive indications for the future, in particular on postconsumer waste levels. WWF is however concerned about the notable downward trend in recycled content for consumer products and lack of commitments towards increasing recycling levels in consumer products.

WWF will continue to monitor actual progress against these commitments in the 2007 score.

A number of the companies indicated to WWF that there would be scope to increase recycled fibre use if they detected an increase in consumer and customer demand for recycled fibre tissue products.

Recommendation for companies

WWF considers that the recycling levels for consumer tissue are still too low and notes with concern the downward trend in the use of recycled fibre in consumer products. WWF calls on the companies to make recycled fibres the primary constituent of disposable products such as toilet paper. WWF calls on consumers and customers to send signals to the tissue giants that they would prefer to buy disposable products made out of recycled fibres. For this to happen, consumers need to be properly informed about the recycled content of the brands on the shelves so that they can have a choice.

WWF urges the companies to meet their commitments to increase recycled fibre and postconsumer fibre use, and to make further commitments on increasing recycled fibre use in consumer products.


Recommendation to the consumer

Consumers should:
  •  look and ask for the few 100% recycled tissue brands currently produced by the five major manufacturers as well as recycled brands from smaller companies.
  • proactively ask for recycled products where they shop.
  • check for levels of post consumer recycling content in the products.
(Find our what you should buy)


2) Efficient use of wood fibres

The less fibres that are used for each tissue product the better.

The Scoring results:

WWF has investigated how the companies handle this issue with the following results...

All companies showed that they are taking credible steps towards the efficient use of fibres and all were able to provide evidence of efficiency gains over time. The companies’ attempts to increase the efficiency of wood fibres are credible as efficiency gains provide cost-savings. Please note that WWF has combined the scoring on recycling and fibre efficiency measures.

Although efficient use of wood fibres is an important means of reducing the pressure on the world’s forests, it does not replace the need for more recycling or responsible sourcing.


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