Kimberly-Clark announces strides made toward sustainability, recycling goals

Kimberly-Clark has reported progress toward achieving its Sustainability 2022 goals to create social, environmental and business value.

July 5, 2018
Edited by Adam Redling

Kimberly-Clark Corp.—the Dallas-based company behind brands such as Kleenex, Huggies and Cottonelle—has reported progress toward achieving its Sustainability 2022 goals to create social, environmental and business value.

"We continue to make strides in our efforts to create positive social and environmental change,” Kimberly-Clark Chairman and CEO Thomas Falk says, "That's why we are committed to an ambitious set of sustainability goals that will have a lasting impact on the people we serve around the world and the communities we touch."

Kimberly-Clark's 2017 Global Sustainability Report outlines the company's strategies and is organized and presented in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Standards, Core level.

Key outcomes include:

Social Impact: In the first two years, the lives of 4.3 million people in need worldwide have benefited through programs that increase access to sanitation, help children thrive and empower women and girls.

Forests & Fiber: Sourced 89 percent of the fiber used in tissue products from environmentally preferred sources, including FSC-certified virgin fiber and recycled fiber.

Waste & Recycling: Further increased the amount of waste diverted from landfills (includes both manufacturing and non-manufacturing facilities) to 95 percent.

Energy & Climate: Lowered its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 18 percent (from 2005 baseline) through improved energy efficiency and increased use of alternative energy sources.

Supply Chain: Invested in watershed analyses, as well as water treatment and recycling technologies, to further reduce the company’s water consumption in water-stressed areas.

In addition, Kimberly-Clark also announced expanded programming in several key areas.

The company began measuring and reporting on Scope 3 GHG emissions—the indirect emissions that occur both upstream and downstream in the value chain—and will establish reduction targets later this year. The company worked with the World Resources Institute, Washington, and World Wildlife Fund, Gland, Switzerland, to identify the company's primary sources of Scope 3 emissions.

This work comes on the heels of a major commitment in 2017 to annually purchase approximately 1 million megawatt hours of renewable wind energy, equivalent to about one-third of the electricity needs of Kimberly-Clark's North American manufacturing operations.

"While our work in 2017 has put us ahead of schedule on our GHG emissions goals, we see continued opportunities to unlock business value from our energy and climate strategy," Kimberly-Clark Vice President of Safety and Sustainability Lisa Morden says. "The focus on Scope 3 emissions will help us work with our suppliers and customers to identify opportunities for greater efficiencies across our supply chain."

The company also plans to drive further gains toward its goal of diverting at least 150,000 metric tons of waste through programs that reduce waste or divert it from low-value disposal outlets to higher value, more beneficial uses.

"Our challenge is to eliminate waste in our processes, products and packaging, while also exceeding customers' expectations with safe and effective products that can be properly managed after use," Morden says. "By adopting a systems-based approach with key partners, we can play a role in enabling the circular economy, one which is restorative and creates value."

Earlier this year, Kimberly-Clark joined the Closed Loop Ocean initiative to help prevent plastic leaking into the world's oceans, and it will continue to promote critical labelling programs to provide simple, consistent recycling or disposal instructions for consumers. Further, Kimberly-Clark Professional's RightCycle Program has reclaimed and recycled more than 600 metric tons of non-hazardous lab, cleanroom and industrial waste, including apparel, gloves and safety eyewear since 2013.

"I am proud of our dedicated employees around the world—and our many partners, suppliers and customers—who are part of achieving these goals," Morden says. "Through sustainable practices that support a healthy planet, we can build stronger communities and ensure our business thrives for decades to come."