Kimberly-Clark achieves 2030 water efficiency goals ahead of schedule

Pictured: Water treatment and recycling facilities at Kimberly-Clark's factory in Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil

The business, which owns brands such as Andrex and Huggies, confirmed the milestone in its latest annual sustainability report this week.

Kimberly-Clark had been aiming to reduce its water consumption at sites based in water-stressed areas by 50% by 2030, against a 2015 baseline. In 2023, it had achieved a 52.8% reduction against this baseline.

It attributes this success to interventions made following an updated assessment of water-related risks and consumption. Priorities have included identifying and fixing leaks, installing water recycling equipment for water from cooling towers and harvesting rainwater.

Projects have been carried out at sites in locations including China, Brazil, Indonesia, El Salvador and Colombia.

Several sites have also fitted enhanced meters and digital technologies to track water data in real-time.

Kimberly-Clark’s reasoning for setting a water target which only takes in sites in water-stressed areas is that “its water consumption is not as substantial as typical consumer packaged goods companies given its product mix – therefore, we focus our efforts on where we have the biggest impact”.

The sustainability report outlines how the company is striving to go beyond in-house efficiencies and also collaborate with other stakeholders to create greater water security for water basins in which its factories are located.

For example, at the Barbosa Mill in Colombia, work was undertaken last year to identify appropriate ecological restoration and conservation opportunities in partnership with NGOs and local authorities. This year, these changes have started to be implemented. Kimberly-Clark is seeking to replicate this model of collaboration for water stewardship at other sites going forward.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that around half of the global population experiences severe water stress for at least part of the year. Hotter temperatures and changing weather patterns are often compounded by challenges such as ecological depletion of water basins, population growth, urbanization and ageing water infrastructure.

Related news: PepsiCo achieves water efficiency target two years ahead of deadline

Related feature: Are businesses prepared for water-related climate risks?

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