quilted ultra plush



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.
forest-products industry


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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
Resources Inc.

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
companies work."

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