Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's about time - but they can do better!

During my sophomore and junior years (96-97) in college I actually co-oped for Kimberly-Clark's research division in Neenah, WI. I was in charge of researching biodegradable polymers my first semester and the second semester creating a biodegradable diaper. Well, I haven't seen that launched yet, 12 years later, but you'd figure they would have been a little more on the forefront of the whole recycled paper market.

I think 40% recycled material is pretty weak as there are plenty of options out there with 100% recycled material.

Kimberly-Clark Launches Recycled Paper Products

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Kimberly-Clark Corp is going "green" in toilet paper, napkins and paper towels, launching a line of consumer paper products that uses recycled material.

The launch this month of Scott Naturals makes Kimberly-Clark the first major paper products maker to have a full line that taps into the growing market for environmentally friendly products.

It follows on the success other mainstream manufacturers have had in selling products that are marketed as environmentally friendly, most notably Clorox Co's Green Works line of cleaners, which already accounts for a big chunk of that company's sales growth.

The success of Green Works, launched in late 2007, helped demonstrate that "green" products would be purchased by more than just a handful of consumers, said Brian Morgan, senior research analyst at market research firm Euromonitor International.

"Some of the big players, they really weren't convinced that it could be a mainstream strategy," he said.

Kimberly-Clark said consumers who buy Scott products --the company's lower-priced "value brand" compared with its Cottonelle and Viva lines -- have been asking for environmentally friendly paper products.

"We think there is a big, key, unmet need for consumers of getting the right price, quality and environmental benefits," Scott brand director Erik Seidel told Reuters in an interview.

The U.S. market for toilet paper, napkins and paper towels totaled $11.89 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor.

Charmin and Bounty maker Procter & Gamble Co does not make recycled paper products, and a spokesman would not comment on any future plans. Georgia-Pacific, whose brands include Quilted Northern, does not have a full line of products marketed as containing recycled fibers, but does have recycled fibers in some of its products, a spokeswoman said.


Paper products with recycled fibers have been a hard sell to all but the most environmentally concerned consumers because of the perception that they do not perform as well as standard products when it comes to aspects like softness.

A recent test by Consumer Reports found that Marcal's Small Steps and Seventh Generation's toilet papers -- two of the larger "green" options -- were still "only so-so" in terms of softness, despite recent changes in formulation.

"You have to have a balance of having that (environmental) element with something that is effective," Morgan said.

Kimberly-Clark said it is using a blend of recycled and virgin fibers to feel and absorb more like standard products.

The Scott Naturals toilet paper has 40 percent recycled fiber, while the paper towels have 60 percent and the napkins contain 80 percent.

The cost of the napkins and paper towels is in line with Scott's traditional products, while the toilet paper costs 6 percent more because it is more expensive to manufacture, Seidel said.

Keeping the price in check may help Scott Naturals' viability.

"With paper products, it's much more commoditized than with household cleaning," Euromonitor's Morgan said. "People aren't willing to pay even 10 or 20 cents more per unit."

(Reporting by Brad Dorfman, editing by Matthew Lewis)

1 comment:

Toilet God said...

40% is pretty weak, but its better than 0%. The fact that a huge corporation like KC is taking notice that there is a market out there for the products is a decent victory. The other manufacturers will take notice once they see more and more people buying the Scott product.

They are correct in perceived product quality though...until the technology (yes I'm using technology when it comes to TP), until the "technology" of recycled paper becomes more advanced, the 40% stuff is what its going to take to make your mainstream people switch over. If everybody bought this brand, we'd use 40% less virgin wood for TP, which is pretty significant.

You are right though. After 12 years, you'd figure our TP technology would be more advanced, but I'll take this as a small victory.