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Kimberly-Clark Sustainability Report: 99.9% of Virgin Fiber From Certified Sources

Kimberly-Clark, the company behind Kleenex, Scott and Huggies, has made significant progress on some of its 2015 sustainability goals, including aiming to source 100 percent of its virgin wood fiber from certified suppliers and achieving zero-waste-to-landfill status, according to the company’s 2011 sustainability report.

In June 2011, the company announced that it wanted to draw all of the virgin fiber used in its products from sources certified by one of a number of systems including the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forest Initiative. In the just-released 2011 corporate sustainability report, the company says it sourced 99.9 percent of its fiber from such suppliers last year. By the end of 2011 K-C had just one remaining non-certified supplier, and the company decided to stop purchasing from this supplier beginning in 2012. Virgin wood fiber accounts for around 70 percent of the fiber the company used in 2011.

FSC-certified suppliers are the company’s preferred source, according to the report. In 2011, the Kleenex brand became the first US consumer tissue to offer FSC-certified tissue products. The company also extended FSC certification to more than 95 percent of North American tissue and towel lines in its Kimberly-Clark Professional business, the report says.

Another of the company’s stated goals is to send zero waste to landfill by 2015. Last year saw 48 percent of K-C’s facilities achieve this goal, including all of the facilities in its European Personal Care business. About 94 percent of waste from the US Personal Care mills was diverted from landfill. The report says that its global “nonwovens” plants have been virtually landfill waste-free for almost a decade.

K-C reduced the amount of waste it produced per metric ton of production by 3.4 percent in 2011, from 0.30 to 0.29 metric tons of waste per metric ton of production. However, the percentage of the total waste sent to landfill jumped 3.2 percentage points, from 18.2 percent in 2010 to 21.4 percent in 2011.

Progress has been slow on its water use goals. By 2015 the company plans to cut its absolute water use by 25 percent against a 2010 baseline. Year-on-year, K-C’s global water use fell about 0.85 percent, from 128.4 million cubic meters in 2010 to 127.3 million in 2011.

Last year saw the company shift its water reduction strategy to focus attention on those facilities with what K-C calls “strong business drivers” to reduce water use. Methods being used by the company include shifting tissue production to more water-efficient mills and long-loop recycling to maximize the reuse of effluent. K-C is also engaging employees by sharing best practices between different facilities and trying to communicate goals and progress on water reduction to staff, the report says.

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