mental groups say -- and a dark-comedy example of American excess.
The reason, they say, is that plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made
by chopping down and grinding up trees that were decades or even a
century old. Environmentalists want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe
with tissue made from recycled paper goods.
It has been slow
going. Big toilet-paper makers say that they've taken steps to become
more Earth-friendly but that their customers still want the soft stuff,
so they're selling it.
This summer, two of the best-known
combatants in this fight signed a truce, with a big tissue maker
promising to do better. But the larger battle goes on -- the ultimate
test of how green Americans will be when nobody's watching.
what price softness?" said Tim Spring, chief executive of Marcal
Manufacturing, a New Jersey paper maker that is trying to persuade
customers to try 100% recycled paper. "Should I contribute to
clear-cutting and deforestation because the big [marketing] machine has
told me that softness is important?"
He added: "You're not giving up the world here."
Toilet paper is far from being the biggest threat to the world's
forests: Together with facial tissue, it accounts for 5% of the U.S.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Never Miss a Beat.
Get our best delivered to your inbox.
But despite environmentalists' concerns, they say customers are unwavering in their desire for the softest paper possible.
"That's a segment [of consumers] that is quite demanding of products
that are soft," said James Malone, a spokesman for Georgia-Pacific.
figures seem to make that clear: Quilted Northern Ultra Plush, the
three-ply stuff, sold 24 million packages in the last year, bringing in
more than $144 million, according to market research firm Information
Last month, Greenpeace announced an agreement that it said would change this industry from the inside.
The environmental group had spent 4 1/2 years attacking Kimberly-Clark
Corp., the maker of Kleenex and Cottonelle toilet paper, for getting
wood from old-growth forests in Canada. But the group said it was
calling off the "Kleercut" campaign: Kimberly-Clark had agreed to make
its practices greener.
By 2011, the company said, 40% of the fiber in all its tissue products will come from recycled paper or sustainable forests.
"We could have campaigned forever," said Lindsey Allen, a senior forest
campaigner with Greenpeace. But this was enough, she said, because
Kimberly-Clark's changes could alter the entire wood-pulp supply chain:
"They have a policy that . . . will shift the entire way that tissue