In memoriam: Harold Neilson

In memoriam: Harold Neilson

Neilson helped to form the Independent Waste Paper Processors Association, which is now known as The Recycling Association.


Harold Neilson, a longtime member of the recovered fiber sector of the recycling industry, died on June 5 after a battle with illness. Neilson helped to form the Independent Waste Paper Processors Association (IWPPA), which is now known as The Recycling Association, Northampton, England.

“Harold was very innovative and will always be remembered for inventing multigrade and KC-mixed (SOW) and giving us an annual KC awards presentation with prizes for supply and quality,” says Neil Clarke, managing director at Recycling UK Ltd., Cheshire, England.

Tony Waring, who retired six years ago from working as a global procurement director for recovered fiber and chemicals at Kimberly-Clark, says Neilson will be remembered within the recovered fiber industry, as he played a part in challenging, changing, developing and improving the recovered fiber market. Neilson held positions as managing director at Chisholm, a recovered fiber buyer for the United Kingdom at Kimberly-Clark and a managing director at Borders Recycling. Waring says Neilson was “ahead of his time” in innovation and helped to shape the future of tissue grades, improve quality standards and challenge manufacturing and technical capabilities to use different types of recovered fiber.

In 1975, Neilson helped to form the IWPPA. He was appointed as the association’s president on Feb. 18, 1975. Other IWPPA officers included John Dyer as deputy president and Brian Harris as honorary secretary. The council was reinforced by the addition of Ron Humphries and Alfred Warminger. 

Neilson led IWPPA in the 1970s as it discussed a joint venture with Kimberly-Clark to build a paper mill, Waring says. Although the joint venture was not pursued, the two organizations completed a supply agreement and the IWPPA was a valued, leading supplier to the Unifibre mill at Prudhoe, England.

In addition, Neilson helped to lead Kimberly-Clark. Waring adds that Neilson was an “unconventional” leader at Kimberly-Clark. “He had supporters, though he also had those who questioned recovered fiber procurement and why it was a different category to traditional procurement, though Harold always stood his ground and developed a recovered fiber strategy that hugely benefited Kimberly-Clark.”

He also helped to introduce multigrade at Kimberly-Clark, which became a core grade within the tissue and printing and writing sectors. He also introduced KC mix as a single grade for Coleshill Mill. 

“Harold’s skill to work with Kimberly-Clark process engineers, mill managers and business leaders to invest in new technology and deinking plants to process different types of recovered paper was ahead of its time and enabled Kimberly-Clark and the IWPPA to pursue grades of recovered paper not previously used for tissue production,” Waring says. “Harold was a challenging leader in different ways, but his aim was always to win and drive value for each organization he represented, including Chisholm, the IWPPA, Kimberly-Clark and Borders Recycling. He will be remembered as a leading and influential player in the recovered fiber market who worked tirelessly to drive forward changes and improvements by his innovation and readiness to challenge.”

Neilson is survived by his wife Pam, daughter Michelle, son Geoffrey and their families. His funeral will take place June 27 at 11:15 a.m. at St. Winefride’s RC Church at 5 Burton Rd. in Little Neston, Wirral, England. After the service, Pam has invited everyone to Pollards Inn at Village Square in Willaston, Wirral.