June 24, 2020

In 2019, NRDC published The Issue With Tissue, a report which shined a spotlight on the link between major U.S. tissue product manufacturers and the destruction of one of the most ecologically important forests in the world, Canada’s boreal forest. That report revealed the worst tissue brands driving boreal degradation and described the impact of using virgin pulp from old-growth forests like Canada’s boreal forest on the climate, species, and many Indigenous communities. It also included a scorecard for consumers ranking major tissue brands according to their impacts on forests.

One year later, The Issue with Tissue 2.0 looks at recent changes in the industry landscape and updates our brand scorecards in response to those changes. While there are some new industry winners, the losers unfortunately remain the same. The largest U.S. tissue product manufacturers—Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Georgia-Pacific—continue to make toilet paper from 100 percent virgin forest fiber and feed a devastating “tree-to-toilet pipeline.”

Despite the reluctance of the major U.S. companies to adopt recycled materials and responsibly-sourced alternative fibers, there are signs that the industry is starting to shift to climate-friendlier products because of heightened attention and increased consumer demand. Several companies have launched or seen significant growth in products made from recycled content or sustainable alternative fibers. At the same time, P&G, the largest purchaser of boreal tissue pulp in the United States, has faced especially vehement public backlash after it received F grades across all its tissue brands.  

However, the biggest tissue companies remain slow to act. Our planet has no time for the largest companies in the world to take half-measures or deflect blame. As a major driver of pulp and paper production in Canada, U.S. tissue companies must change their ways if we want to preserve this valuable forest resource. Going forward, we must build on this momentum and continue to push corporations to adopt stringent, climate-friendly standards for their tissue products.