P&G ignores climate-critical boreal forest protection in new ‘It’s Our Home’ campaign
July 16, 2020
Stand.earth, NRDC call today’s announcement a greenwashing attempt that avoids protection of critical primary forest, threatened species habitat in Canada
CINCINNATI, OHIO — Environmental organizations Stand.earth and the Natural Resources Defense Council(NRDC) are calling out Procter & Gamble’s launch of the “It’s Our Home” campaign for failing to protect climate-critical primary forests like the boreal forest in Canada, where the company sources huge quantities of fiber for its toilet paper and tissue products. The organizations are part of a broad Issue with Tissue campaign that highlights how P&G makes its toilet paper and tissue products from endangered forests and threatened species habitat.
“Talking about ‘nature as a climate solution’ while simultaneously supporting the clearcutting of vast swaths of primary forest in Canada to make toilet paper is the ultimate greenwash. P&G can’t just talk about protecting forests in one location while hammering them in another,” says Tyson Miller, Forest Programs Director at Stand.earth. “It would be great to celebrate true environmental leadership, but instead P&G has chosen to continue walking down a disappointing and dangerous path of glossing over its devastating supply-chain impacts by flushing away climate-critical forests and our future.”
“P&G needs to get its own house in order when it comes to solving the climate emergency, and not simply outsource its sustainability,” says Shelley Vinyard, Boreal Corporate Campaign Manager at NRDC. “To get serious about climate change, P&G needs to reduce its own reliance on climate-critical forests and support Indigenous self-determination over their lands. But instead they continue to flush climate-critical forests down the toilet.”
The “It’s Our Home” campaign, which centers around “the power of nature as a climate solution”, includes plans by P&G to protect places “that are rich in carbon”, such as the mangroves in the Philippines. However, the announcement ignores the fact that the boreal forest in Canada is the largest intact forest remaining on the planet, and it also stores more carbon per hectare than nearly any other forest type on Earth (second only to mangroves), making it vital to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. P&G’s suppliers in the boreal source directly from the habitat of boreal caribou, a threatened species in serious decline. Boreal caribou habitat also happens to be in of the most carbon-rich parts of the boreal, making sourcing from these areas all the more egregious.
While some aspects of P&G’s new commitment are positive, the company failed to make any commitment to reduce its massive impacts on primary forests, including for tissue products like Charmin, America’s #1 toilet paper brand. The announcement also fails to include any goals for expanding the use of recycled fiber in its toilet paper tissue products, despite the fact that recycled fiber has two-thirds less climate impacts.
BACKGROUND ON ISSUE WITH TISSUE CAMPAIGN
Today’s announcement comes more than a year after the launch of Stand.earth and NRDC’s Issue with Tissuecampaign against Procter & Gamble for making toilet paper and tissue products from endangered forests and threatened species habitat.
In February 2019, the groups released the “Issue with Tissue” sustainability scorecard flunking Charmin and other major toilet paper brands for refusing to use zero recycled content in their at-home toilet paper. In June 2020, NRDC released “The Issue With Tissue 2.0,” including a new sustainability scorecard that once again flunked P&G brands.
The boreal forest, which is often called the “Amazon of the North”, is home to over 600 Indigenous communities, as well as boreal caribou, pine marten, and billions of songbirds. The loss of this intact forest is impacting Indigenous peoples’ ways of life and driving the decline of boreal caribou and other species.
In the months following the release of the report, activists created a “blind wipe” video spoofing Charmin over its softness claims, held a protest outside Procter & Gamble’s shareholder meeting featuring a chainsaw-wielding bear, got Santa arrested for delivering coal to Procter & Gamble’s headquarters, delivered a tongue-in-cheek Earth Day message about folding vs. wadding toilet paper, released a poll showing 85% of Americans want toilet paper makers to use more environmentally responsible materials, and supported religious leaders in Cincinnati in sending a letter to Procter & Gamble about the moral imperative of addressing climate change.
Despite engaging in a long negotiation process with company executives late last year, Stand.earth and NRDC reached an impasse with Procter & Gamble over its sourcing practices when the company refused to adopt concrete steps to uphold Indigenous rights, and clear, science-based commitments with timelines and actual goals to cease working with suppliers that source from boreal forest areas beyond the 65% habitat intactness threshold established by the Canadian federal government.