7,000 Rolls of Toilet Paper! Creating New Supply Chain Wins Innovation Award for Kimberly-Clark.

By Nikita Saharia Chaturvedi

Kimberly-Clark Professional recently received two awards from NETWORK Services Company, distributor of janitorial supplies and equipment, food service disposables, printing papers and packaging supplies and equipment to businesses in the commercial real estate, healthcare, food service, industrial printing and public sector.

“Its annual supplier trade show brings NETWORK members and suppliers together to exchange ideas and information, and we were honored to receive two awards this year,” said Peter Leahy Channel Marketing, Health and Wellness at Kimberly-Clark Professional in a podcast interview with My Purchasing Center.

Leahy explains that Kimberly-Clark Professional works closely with NETWORK Services to deliver solutions that help create exceptional workplaces, which nurture a culture of health, safety and throughput. “We work with NETWORK and its members to create relevant content that will help drive growth and provide value-added insights and information for their customers,” he said.

“We also supply them with high-quality health and hygiene solutions, such as Kleenex and Scott brand towel and tissue products, and hand and surface sanitation offerings.”

One of the awards Kimberly-Clark Professional received is for innovation. The company received it for its GreenHarvest products. “We’re very excited about the Innovation Award as well as the award we received for Supplier Marketing Partner,” Leahy said.  GreenHarvest products represent a pioneering new approach to sustainable fiber sourcing.

The products incorporate rapidly renewable plant-based fiber, such as wheat straw and bamboo, into Kleenex and Scott brand towel and tissue products. According to Kimberly-Clark Professional, it the first major towel and tissue manufacturer in North America to introduce products made with 20% plant fiber in place of tree fiber or recycled fiber.

“The company received feedback from leading environmental non-governmental organizations, or ENGOs, and our customers and they are very supportive of the GreenHarvest product line,” Leahy said. “There is strong demand among commercial customers, in particular colleges, universities and high-traffic facilities such as sports venues, for sustainable tissue and towel products.”

Bamboo and wheat straw meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s definition of rapidly renewable materials because they can regenerate in less than 10 years. These fibers have shorter harvesting cycles, which reduce the amount of land needed to support demand and take advantage of abundant plant sources. In addition, GreenHarvest products, along with Kimberly-Clark Professional FSC-certified and ECOLOGO-certified products, can help facilities earn points toward LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance certification and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHES) STARS program. From the ENGOs’ perspective, Kimberly-Clark’s efforts to use rapidly renewable fibers at the commercial scale may lead other companies to find new ways to make their supply chains more sustainable.

In a resource-constrained, digital world, with declining sources of recycled fiber, and the need to reduce pressure on natural forests, it’s important to explore new fiber sources. Non-tree plant fiber alternatives are a logical next step. “We’re pleased to say that they deliver the quality and performance customers have come to expect from our Kleenex and Scott brand products,” Leahy said. “And by purchasing excess wheat straw, we’re giving farmers a new market for what remains after their grain is harvested. We estimate that an acre of wheat could yield as much as a ton of straw – enough fiber to make 7,100 rolls of toilet paper.”

It’s a win-win for everyone. By exploring new non-tree fibers, such as wheat and bamboo, Kimberly-Clark Professional is able to put less pressure on natural forests and existing sources of recycled fiber as well as help farmers by enhancing the value of their crops. GreenHarvest products required developing an entirely new supply chain to directly obtain wheat straw from U.S. farmers and creating a cutting-edge manufacturing process for converting fiber into pulp, Leahy said.

Being first to market means forging new paths, developing new manufacturing processes as well as a unique supply chain to obtain wheat straw directly from U.S. farmers.  ”We created an entirely new supply chain and developed an advanced manufacturing process for these products,” he said. “We are purchasing wheat straw directly from U.S. farmers and using it in Scott brand bathroom tissue and towels made at our Mobile, Alabama, manufacturing facility. By doing this, we’re bringing revenue to farming communities and utilizing an abundant, local plant source. It’s good for farmers and it’s good for future generations.”

Listen to the My Purchasing Center podcast with Peter Leahy, Kimberly-Clark Professional Receives Award for Innovation – See more at: http://www.mypurchasingcenter.com/mro-indirect/blogs/7000-rolls-toilet-paper-creating-new-supply-chain-wins-innovation-award-kimberly-clark/#sthash.uWMnOhnl.dpuf


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