The vote’s result proves that a large amount of people do in fact care about what goes into toilet paper, especially if it’s being sourced from incredibly important forests. One of the core issues that the proposal seeks to address is that Procter & Gamble’s tissue products are putting immense pressure on the Canadian boreal forest.
The boreal forest is the largest intact forest ecosystem in the world; it’s the permanent home to caribou, lynx, wood bison, moose and wolves, and it’s the summer nesting grounds for billions of migratory birds. All told, the boreal covers 1.2 billion acres of woodland stretching across most of Canada and covering roughly half of the country’s total land area.
Each year, 1 million acres of boreal forest is cut in Canada, partly driven by sourcing for tissue products made out of virgin forest fiber. This unnecessary action -- see alternatives below -- not only threatens the wildlife that call the forest home, but it also puts incredible pressure on our changing climate. Logging in the Canadian boreal takes long-stored carbon from soil, roots, trunks and branches and releases it into the atmosphere. It also eliminates the carbon capturing potential of felled trees and erodes the carbon intake capabilities of the fractured forest around it.
The climate implications of logging in the boreal forest are likely a large factor in what drove larger institutional investors, such as BlackRock, to vote for the shareholder proposal. BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, and the second-largest holder of P&G stock, has recently made efforts to support climate friendly shareholder proposals after receiving well-deserved criticism for its voting record in the past.
Whatever the reason, an incredible amount of investors felt compelled to call on P&G to consider how it can reduce the forest impacts of their supply chain seriously.
This shouldn’t be too difficult for P&G, because thankfully, there is a relatively easy way for it to reduce the impacts that its tissue products have on the boreal forest. The company simply needs to do what many of its competitors are already doing, which is to incorporate recycled or alternative forest-free fibers into its products and thus reduce the logging done in the boreal and elsewhere for toilet paper.