In 2019, NRDC published The Issue with Tissue, a report that 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, the Canadian boreal forest. That report revealed the worst tissue brands driving the degradation of irreplaceable boreal forests through their continued use of virgin forest fiber to make their throwaway products, and the resulting impacts for many Indigenous communities, wildlife, and the global climate. It also included a scorecard for consumers ranking major tissue brands on their sustainability for forests. In 2020, NRDC published The Issue with Tissue 2.0, which noted changes in the industry landscape and updated the scorecard.
NRDC released the latest Issue with Tissue scorecard in 2022, which builds on the 2021 scorecard with grades for more products than ever before and an updated methodology that reflects the growing urgency with which scientists are calling for the protection of primary forests (i.e., forests that have never before been industrially disturbed and have irreplaceable value for the climate and species). The 2022 scorecard provides a fresh snapshot of the sustainability of the marketplace for toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissue, revealing which companies are embracing climate-friendly products, and which are fueling climate catastrophe.
Procter & Gamble (P&G), for example, remains stuck in the past, rejecting demands from consumers and shareholders alike to end its reliance on climate-critical forests like the Canadian boreal. As a result, P&G is now the only one of the three largest toilet paper producers to earn F grades across all its tissue brands. While Kimberly-Clark and Georgia-Pacific now each offer a product made from 100 percent recycled content online to consumers, P&G still makes its flagship consumer brands almost entirely from virgin forest fiber.
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 irreplaceable, vital forest. Going forward, we must build on the momentum of a shifting marketplace and continue to push corporations to adopt stringent, climate-friendly standards for their tissue products.