Kleenex’s maker not taking Aspen Skico’s concerns lightly
ASPEN – The Aspen Skiing Co.’s environmental principles might have met their match in chairlift lines.
The Skico has dropped Kimberly-Clark tissue products everywhere in its operations except in the lift lines. The Skico hasn’t found a suitable alternative yet for the iconic Kleenex brand it supplies skiers and riders outdoors.
There’s a good reason for that, said Dave Dickson, director of corporate communications for Kimberly-Clark. He said the tissues there need to be durable and strong to hold up in the elements but still soft for customers’ noses. Virgin fibers, rather than recycled fibers, supply those qualities, Dickson said.
But Auden Schendler, the Skico’s executive director of community and environmental responsibility, scoffed at the idea that the Skico must stick with Kleenex or another company’s product that uses virgin fibers.
“There’s comparable stuff out there,” Schendler said.
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The issue with tissues at Skico properties came about after environmental organizations mounted a campaign targeting Kimberly-Clark for its environmental practices. Greenpeace and the National Resources Defense Council are urging boycotts of Kimberly-Clark products because they say it uses pulp from endangered forests and its tissue products lack recycled fiber.
“Aspen Skiing Company has switched to other paper tissue suppliers whose operations are more environmentally sound,” Schendler wrote in a letter to Kimberly-Clark’s chief executive officer.
Greenpeace wasted no time jumping on the Aspen name. Greenpeace fired off a press release Wednesday trumpeting news that the Skico formally joined the boycott Tuesday.
The Skico removed Kimberly-Clark paper products in recent months from The Little Nell Hotel and Snowmass Club, as well as its 15 restaurants. It also plans to drop references on trail maps and trail signs to Kleenex Corner on Aspen Mountain.
Although Kimberly-Clark is a multinational giant that can absorb losing a small customer like the Aspen Skiing Co., it doesn’t belittle the loss of any customer, at least not publicly.
“We care about what any customer thinks about the Kimberly-Clark Company,” Dickson said.
The company responds to all letters and e-mails it receives regarding its environmental practices, he said. The Skico’s letter will also receive a response, but he wouldn’t speculate how it would be addressed.
Dickson said many of the parties that criticize or question Kimberly-Clark’s practices weren’t aware of all the facts.
“We have some of the most progressive policies in the tissue industry,” he said.
Dickson noted that the company’s website includes a link for a 2005 environmental sustainability report which includes a couple of pages about forestry issues. That report contends that the company doesn’t use fiber from old-growth areas of the Canadian Boreal Forest that have been designated ecologically significant.
Dickson also noted that timber is harvested in the Boreal forests primarily for construction uses: “The vast majority of fiber we purchase from the Canadian Boreal Forest comes from residual waste, sawdust and chips from the lumber-production process,” his company’s report said.
That sustainability report is available at http://www.kimberly-clark.com.
Schendler said the environmental sources that the Skico relies on have established websites that examine the claims of Kimberly-Clark. One such website is kleercut.net/en/ResponsetoKC.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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