Kleenex goes green

A look at the organization that recently gave North America’s largest tissue company environmental bragging rights.

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Next time you’re sick and snuffling into Kleenex there will be silver lining: you’re helping save the forests. Kimberly-Clark, the company that owns the Kleenex brand and Scott Naturals announced yesterday it will be FSC-certified, which means tissues will use fiber sources from suppliers following “the highest standards in forestry management” according to the press release. It is the first branded tissue maker to obtain FSC certification for its products.

 

It’s been a green month. I recently blogged about Mattel committing to using FSC certified products for their packaging (and subsequently, Barbie and Ken’s happy reunion), and my colleague Chris MacDonald blogged about the sometimes murky ethical terrain of nongovernmental organizations convincing powerful corporation to change their ways. He’s inspired me to take a closer look at FSC and how it works.

 

Here are five interesting facts about the non-profit organization that started in 1993, and has branches around the world.

 

-As of 2011 there are 20,000 suppliers of FSC certified products, and the market for FSC products is worth more than $20 billion USD.

 

-The FSC is market-driven, meaning rather than having a political authority decide on valid certifications, it is regulated by external audiences such as NGOs

 

-Consumers are the impetus for companies to become certified, as the label provides manufacturers and products a competitive advantage in the market

-As well as being a do-gooder and giving your product a competitive edge, many governments provide tax-breaks to companies using FSC timbre

- The group is not without controversy: The UK-based Rainforest Foundation called it the “Enron of forestry” and after an investigation concluded the FSC does not properly control the accredited auditors (or certifiers). There is an entire website dedicated to such complaints called FSCwatch.

-The FSC cares about brand awareness: According to a post by Ben Grossman, Co-President of Grossman Marketing Group FSC has strict rules around the usage of “FSC” on products. The acronym has to be used along with the official logo, which Grossman argues is a disincentive for product designers.

Now when you blow your nose there’s a little more to think about.

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