Boots and Somerfield, two of the biggest names on the British high street, have been branded "eco-villains" for failing to ensure that their tissue and lavatory paper products are environmentally friendly.
The companies were ranked bottom of a Greenpeace table of retailers and manufacturers because they used little recycled paper or bought pulp from forests without safeguards on sustainability.
Boots, the country's largest chemist chain, stocks only one environmentally friendly tissue product despite promising in 1992 to source its timber and paper products from well-managed forests, according to Greenpeace, which described its behaviour as "completely inadequate".
Somerfield, the sixth-largest supermarket chain, had a "terrible" record, said the pressure group. The chain told Greenpeace it had no plans to start using forest-friendly fibre and was not available for comment yesterday. Boots said it was committed to responsible sourcing but acknowledged that it could improve the certification of its wood, paper and pulp.
Greenpeace passed its table, which ranks all companies A to F, to The Independent after two years of research into companies' policy and practice on all forms of paper products.
The household products giant Procter & Gamble, which is responsible for the Charmin, Bounty and Tempo brands, declined to supply any information to Greenpeace, earning it an F, the lowest rating.
Of those that did supply their policies, some impressed by selling almost all "green" tissue and lavatory paper, such as Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's, which both scored an A. They were praised for buying paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which sets rigorous standards on the environment and labour rights and audits suppliers, but were urged to increase recycled content.
Asda scored a B because it still had "some dodgy products", while Morrisons, which scored a C, promised to improve its performance by the end of the year. Tesco, the country's largest retailer, was ranked C.
The cleaning and healthcare giant Kimberly-Clark is transferring its best-selling Kleenex tissue range to FSC-certification from next month. Greenpeace welcomed that move but said that in other countries the company continued to manufacture its brands from the "ancient boreal forests of Canada", giving the company an E rating. Waitrose, which vaunts its strong environmental record, scored a "disappointing" D, along with Superdrug.
Greenpeace says responsible timber sourcing is important because forests around the world are under increasing threat from loggers. The UK has traditionally sourced paper from forests in Canada, Finland and Russia where, the group says, logging companies operate with little concern for their impact.
Mariana Paoli, a Greenpeace forests campaigner, called on retailers to use entirely recycled paper if possible and, if necessary, FSC-certified wood.
How the shops rated
Marks & Spencer – A – Top of the class, but should add more recycled content
Sainsbury's – A – Good show, but again more could still be done
Asda – B – Almost there, needs to drop last few dodgy products
Co-op - B – Doing OK but needs to increase environmentally friendly content
Morrisons – C – Pleased to see commitment to improve by the end of the year
Tesco – C – Making progress but needs to do more
SCA (Velvet/Naturelle) – C – Good recycled ranges, but failedto provide information on other products
Georgia Pacific (Lotus/Nouvelle) – D – Failed to provide information on key products
Superdrug – D – Improving, all products FSC-certified by end of year, but where is the recycled?
Waitrose – D – Disappointing grade, but good to see commitments in place for next year
Kimberly-Clark (Kleenex/ Andrex) – E – Currently poor, but better commitments going forward
Boots – E – Completely inadequate. Needs to fulfil long-term promises
Somerfield – E – Terrible! No plans to be forest friendly
Procter & Gamble (Charmin/Bounty/Tempo) – F – Failed to report