Toilet Paper Companies Destroying Canada’s Boreal Forests: New NRDC Report

Deforestation in a boreal forest in Canada
Deforestation in a boreal forest in Canada. Onfokus / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has just released its Issue With Tissue report for 2022, and while it does show some progress in regards to sustainable bathroom tissue, the findings also show that many major toilet paper companies are destroying Canada’s boreal forests. Boreal forests are crucial to our planet, as they store 30% to 40% of land-based carbon.

In the new scorecard, the NRDC notes that major companies, including P&G, Kimberly-Clark and Georgia-Pacific have received F scores for top brands such as Angel Soft, Charmin, Cottonelle and Quilted Northern. These companies are sourcing virgin forest fibers from primary boreal forests for their toilet tissue products. Other retailers, including Aldi, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart, also received F scores for their toilet paper. 

Scores were based on factors including percentage of recycled content, percentage of virgin fibers, FSC certification, the bleaching process, and for products made with virgin fibers or non-FSC bamboo, the judges determined whether or not the fibers were sourced from primary forests.

While many of the 60 toilet paper products surveyed received Fs, there were an increasing number of products earning higher markings with more sustainable options for consumers. Twelve products received A or A+ scores.

Some of the top marks went to Trader Joe’s, Green Forest and Natural Value. H-E-B’s Field and Future toilet paper, Kroger’s Simple Truth toilet paper, Target’s Everspring toilet paper and Seventh Generation Extra Soft & Strong toilet paper were among those earning A scores.

In total, the report evaluated 142 products, including toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissues. Seventeen products in total received A+ marks, and another 17 received As.

“Industry laggards like P&G are fueling a tree-to-toilet pipeline that is flushing away some of the most environmentally important — and threatened — forests in the world,” said Jennifer Skene, NRDC’s Natural Climate Solutions policy manager, as reported by CleanTechnica. “The primary forests of the boreal — those areas that have never before been industrially disturbed — must be protected if we’re going to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. Turning them into toilet paper is a climate crime, especially when done by the very companies that most need to step up to protect our future.”

While some major companies, including Kimberly-Clark and Georgia-Pacific, have recently released toilet paper products made with recycled materials that have earned B+ ratings, there is more work to be done. P&G is testing a bamboo toilet paper for its Charmin brand, but it has yet to commit to scaling up the product for more sales or sharing a long-term strategy for more sustainable forest fiber sourcing.

“P&G’s Charmin brand has become a relic that’s completely misaligned with the urgency of the climate crisis we face,” Ashley Jordan, NRDC’s boreal corporate Campaign Coordinator, said.  “Newer toilet paper companies are investing in products that provide healthy options for consumers and the planet. P&G, a $350 billion corporation, has the potential to show real leadership by making Charmin planet-safe. Our forests and our future depends on it.”

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