Jacquie Ottman's
Green Marketing Blog

Scott Naturals—Green Done Right?

Does a new line of green paper products really live up to its tag line of “Green Done Right?” By Jacquelyn Ottman, with Sarah McGrath

On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Kimberly-Clark launched Scott Naturals, a line of household paper products made from partially recycled content. Marketing communications sport the tag line “Green Done Right.” One could argue this line overstates Kimberly-Clark’s achievement, but the company deserves to be lauded for taking a step in the right direction.

“Turn over a NEW leaf…and take a green step without sacrificing quality!” is the promise for this new brand of paper towels, bath tissue, napkins, and flushable wipes that offers the combination of high performance and green. That Kimberly-Clark strikes the coveted balance of quality, performance, and environmental benefits at a price comparable to all-virgin counterparts is commendable indeed.

Scott Naturals products incorporate recycled content, ranging from 40 percent in the bath tissue to 80 percent in the napkins. Cardboard rolls for paper towel and bath tissue are made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled fiber, while the plastic packaging contains 20 percent post-consumer recycled plastic. Roll sizes are bigger to minimize packaging and reduce the environmental impacts of shipping—and are also more economical.

Many brands on the market, including Marcal and Seventh Generation, produce paper products with 100 percent recycled fibers and a high degree (usually above 60 percent) of post-consumer content. Kimberly-Clark caters to the high end of the market and is seeking to differentiate itself from its worthy competition by delivering a recycled paper product with no presumed difference in softness and absorbency. After years of only using virgin paper fibers in their brands (which also include Cottonelle, Kleenex, and Viva)—and taking flack from environmentalists for their forestry practices—Scott Naturals definitely represents a significant achievement for Kimberly-Clark.

But what about the name, Scott Naturals? Does a paper product made of recycled content and bleached by a chlorine-containing compound deserve to be called “Natural?” In our book, not really. Their name, Scott Naturals, plays on consumers’ positive associations with all things natural and could be construed as misleading. (There is no legal definition of the term as of yet.)

Despite its name, Scott Naturals represents a big step forward for a company that has only just started greening its products. Given its lackluster environmental record, Kimberly-Clark may benefit from third-party green certification to verify its various recycling claims. Obviously it’s still too early to tell how successful this first foray into green will be, but judging from the positive buzz that is still surrounding the launch of Scott Naturals, we wouldn’t be surprised if competitors at P&G and Georgia-Pacific weren’t scrambling to respond with eco-innovative products of their own. END

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