Monday, December 05, 2005


Almost everyone knows or has heard of deforestation. Many times we blame the destruction of the rain forests on logging, which becomes lumber used in home construction. If we personally did not just have a house built, many of us feel immune towards the systematic clearing of our precious forests. "It is not us"...."We are not part of this". But all too often as we zoom down the aisles of our local supermarket, we take on an active role as consumer of many products produced from a precious natural resource.

We take for granted where our paper-goods like tissues, paper towels and toilet paper come from. We might glance over and see a comforting recycle logo on a box and feel satisfied in our purchase. The truth is you cannot stop asking questions and demanding answers.

The Boreal Forest is located in Canada...yes, our neighbor, a country that many consider our "backyard". In this backyard we hide a secret...that we are destroying this area with no substantial re-growth from certain companies. "The Boreal has evolved for over 10,000 years and is the largest tract of ancient forest left in North America, making the protection of the Boreal forest absolutely critical. Representing 25 per cent of the world's remaining ancient forests, North America's Boreal forest truly is a global treasure." (

Pulled from the website, please read these FAQ's and ask yourself some important questions about their responses:

I see a paper-recycling symbol on my KLEENEX® Tissue box. Is KLEENEX® Facial Tissue made out of recycled fiber?
This symbol refers only to the content of the carton itself. The KLEENEX® Facial Tissue inside is made from nearly 100 percent virgin fiber. Virgin fiber is used in our tissue because it provides the superior softness consumers expect from a premium facial tissue product such as KLEENEX® Facial Tissue.

(So the carton is made from recyclable paper but not the numerous tissues inside the box...that's helpful. Sounds like progress to me!)

Is KLEENEX® Facial Tissue biodegradable® Flushable?
KLEENEX® Tissue is made with biodegradable cellulose fibers. Because the tissue is made with an additive to make it strong, it will not break down as rapidly as bathroom tissue. Therefore, we suggest you discard KLEENEX® Facial Tissue in the trash.

(Discard the tissue in the trash...again, progress. So we add more chemicals to products that take millions of years for them to finally break the meantime, they sit in our landfills. Great job!)

What types of trees are used to manufacture KLEENEX® Facial Tissue?
Selected tree species, including spruce, fir, aspen, maple and eucalyptus contain thin wood fibers which contribute to the desirable characteristics of softness, absorbency and strength in KLEENEX® Tissue.

(Hmmm, sounds like many of the trees in the Boreal Forest)

Can KLEENEX® Facial Tissue boxes be recycled?
Our cartons are fully recyclable with the poly insert attached. They are accepted at recycling facilities across the country.

(Great to the box CAN BE recycled but the 50 or so tissues inside the box end up in the landfill, again, waiting a few million years for there demise. Is anyone noticing a pattern here? Anyone figure out yet the exponential equation from this?)

Where do we get our pulp?
High-quality KLEENEX® Tissue requires high-quality cellulose fibers. Pulp is purchased from a number of different sources. Approximately one-third of the pulp used is supplied by Kimberly-Clark's own pulp mills. Kimberly-Clark conducts a well-planned forest management and reforestation program that ensures a supply of pulpwood for present and future needs.

(Yes, a reforestation plan would be wise considering if you use up all the trees, then I guess you cannot make your product anymore. However by that time, we have relocated and destroyed our fellow animals that live in those areas...while we all wait patiently for Mother Earth to once again refresh herself of our malfeasance.)

Select wood is either transported to the pulp mill in the form of chips from lumber processing or as logs. The logs are washed, debarked and cut into small, uniform chips. Individual cellulose fibers are separated by "cooking" the wood. The pulp is then processed and dried into sheets on a pulp-drying machine. These sheets are baled for ease of handling and shipping, ready for manufacture into the final product.

Describe the manufacturing process for KLEENEX® Facial Tissue.
Pulp manufacturing mills are usually near the wood source, while tissue manufacturing mills are located close to major markets. At the tissue manufacturing mills, the bales of pulp are put into a hydrapulper, which resembles a giant electric mixer. The pulp is mixed with water to form a pulp slurry of individual fibers in water known as stock or furnish.

As the stock moves to the machine, more water is added to make a thinner mixture, which is more than 99 percent water. The cellulose fibers are then thoroughly separated in refiners before being formed into a web, or sheet, on the forming section of the creped wadding machine. When the sheet comes off the machine a few seconds later, it is 95 percent fiber and only 5 percent water. Typically, much of the water used in the process is recycled. Water not reused is treated to remove contaminants prior to discharge. Careful controls and monitoring ensure that the water leaving the mill meets or exceeds water quality standards. (Let's hope so...but since they give no information as to where I can find their recorded results, I have to take their word for it, right?)

A felt belt carries the sheet from the forming section to the drying section. In the drying section, the sheet is pressed onto the steam-heated drying cylinder and then scraped off the cylinder after it has been dried. The sheet is then wound into large rolls.

The large rolls are transferred to a rewinder, where two sheets of wadding (three sheets for KLEENEX® Ultra Soft and Lotion Facial Tissue products) are plied together before being further processed by calendar rollers for additional softness and smoothness. After being cut and rewound, the finished rolls are tested and transferred to storage, ready for converting into KLEENEX® Facial Tissue.

In the converting department, numerous rolls are put on the multi-folder, where in one continuous process, the tissue is interfolded, cut and put into KLEENEX® Tissue cartons which are inserted into shipping containers. The interfolding causes a fresh tissue to pop out of the box as each tissue is removed.

Throughout the manufacturing process, Kimberly-Clark continuously looks for ways to reduce the amount of energy used per unit of production. Each of the company's mills in the United States has energy conservation programs and receives technical support and advice from the corporate energy staff. Kimberly-Clark is also committed to the reduction of waste going to the landfill. Active waste reduction and recycling efforts are in place at each mill. Some mills have virtually eliminated all waste to landfills! (Yeah but you just told us that the landfills are exactly where are used tissues should and do, end up. So your mills don't produce landfill waste, just the actual product you are producing. Genius!)

There are many questions that need to be addressed but I hope you take from this email, the idea that we should not take things for granted. That every individual needs to take an active part in being an informed consumer. Not to assume that if it is on your grocery shelf, that nothing and no one was hurt in order to get the item to you. That most (not all) companies just want your money and do not look to long-term consequences. That the government will do very little to nothing to help protect the environment and in turn, PROTECT YOU!

Here is a list of recommended alternative products:

Ancient Forest Friendly Tissue Products - USA
Toilet Paper: CVS Bathroom Tissue 1000, Cascades, Marcal, Natural Value, Earth First, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's, 365 Everyday Value
Facial Tissue: Marcal Fluff Out, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's
Paper Towels: Marcal Bella, Natural Value, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's, 365 Everyday Value

1 comment:

Today's Rant said...

Also, the National Resources Defense Council found that K-C uses recycled materials for only 19% of its pulp (the industry average is 60%). A K-C spokesperson admits that "our recent statements have overstated actual practices."