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Kimberly-Clark Reports Water Management Progress, Sets 2022 Goals

Kimberly-Clark reports
(Photo: A river cleanup event last year at Kimberly-Clark’s Kluang Mill in Malaysia. Credit: Kimberly-Clark)

Kimberly-Clark’s 2017 sustainability report and goals for 2022 show a continued focus on water management throughout their supply chain, especially in water-stressed areas.

The company reported reducing total water use by 2 million cubic meters from 2016 to 2017.

A water risk screening assessment that Kimberly-Clark started in 2015 identified 12 operations that required focused attention, according to the new report. The company worked with NGO partners on watershed analysis and target setting. So far, five out of the 12 watershed analyses have been initiated.

“Water is a critical input to our business, and a vital resource for the communities where we operate,” said Lisa Morden, vice president of safety and sustainability for Kimberly-Clark. “That’s why we expanded our focus from reducing water consumption to open collaboration with local community stakeholders and non-government organizations to improve conditions in water-stressed locations.”

In the company’s sustainability materiality index, “water scarcity” appears in the quadrant with the areas of most importance to stakeholders that also have significant impact on the business. They are not alone. Brewers like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have long had an intense focus on water management, but water footprinting is happening in many industries. Recently HP reported a 1% decrease in their overall water footprint.

K-C notes that they formed a partnership with the independent research firm Deltares on a study that led to the web-based WaterLoupe tool. Last year the company deployed WaterLoupe to identify which factors drive water risk and then determine sustainable stewardship strategies.

“Previously, our water security programs focused primarily on water usage, reduction, and recycling in our tissue manufacturing facilities,” the sustainability report says. Last year the company expanded the program to their personal care operations, adding 50 new facilities reporting on water usage.

For 2022, Kimberly-Clark outlined a four-step strategy:

  • Program Activation
    – Water risk screening
    – Mill water assessment
    – Community stakeholder engagement
  • Watershed Analysis
    – Socio-economic growth assessment
    – Water availability and quality assessment
    – Biodiversity risk assessment
    – Regulatory and policy assessment
  • Goal Setting
    – Establish manufacturing site water use targets and budget
    – Determine mechanisms to reduce overall watershed risk
  • Project Implementation
    – Develop, deploy, and deliver projects to achieve defined goals

The full sustainability report and 2022 goals are available here.

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