Kimberly-Clark struggles with post-consumer waste as it surpasses carbon goal

Personal care consumer product manufacturer Kimberly-Clark has surpassed a 2016 emissions goal, and is forging ahead towards a 20% reduction by 2022, as outlined in the company's latest sustainability report.

Released last Friday (30 June), Kimberly-Clark’s latest report details the progress made against key indicators of its Sustainability 2022 strategy, established last year on the back of “aggressive goals” that were surpassed by the firm.

The latest report highlights a 16.8% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions against a 2005 baseline. Kimberly-Clark, which is which is responsible for brands such as Kleenex, Andrex and Huggies, had set a 10.7% reduction goal for 2016.

“At Kimberly-Clark, our vision is to lead the world in essentials for a better life, and through our commitment to sustainability, we are proud to demonstrate our values through proactive environmental and social programmes in the communities where we live, work and sell our brands,” the company’s chief executive Thomas J. Falk said.

The 16.7% carbon reduction brings Kimberly-Clark closer to its 20% reduction target set for 2022, the same year as the company’s 150th anniversary. Current reductions were achieved, in part, through the introduction of biomass boilers at facilities in El Salvador and Brazil, and the installation of heat recovery and low-vacuum blowers in France.

The company also attributes the success of its carbon reduction goal to its LEAN Energy scheme, which engages employees in a “culture of conservation” to educate them on how to optimise energy-efficiency measures and actions.

Extending mindsets

In total, Kimberly-Clark surpassed three of its five sustainability targets, and is on-track to meet and exceed all goals for 2022. Regarding forestry and fiber, the company has reduced the use of natural of fiber from natural forest landscapes by 26% since 2011, exceeding the 2016 target for a 25% reduction. A 50% reduction is being targeted by 2025.

Overall, 89% of the fiber used in tissue products has been sourced from “environmentally-preferred” sources. All virgin fiber sourced in 2015 came from suppliers certified to one of the five forest management certifications recognised by Kimberly-Clark’s fiber procurement policy.

The company has pledged to “extend the zero-waste mindset”, which includes adopting cradle-to-cradle design principles and increase a net recycling value by 10% on an annual basis. For 2016, waste management was expanded to account for boiler ash, de-inking trasher rejects and construction and demolition debris for the first time.

Despite achieve a 2016 target of diverting 95% of manufacturing waste from landfill, Kimberly-Clark fell short of a post-consumer waste target to divert 10,000MT away from landfill in 2016. The company lists “difficult challenges associated with sustaining and scaling-up targeted programmes” as a factor, and still diverted more than half of the target.

“We’re thinking differently about business models and partnerships as well as products, materials and technologies to create business, social and environmental value,” Kimberly-Clark’s chief supply chain officer Sandra MacQuillan said.

“We recognise that we must operate a sustainable supply chain that creates value from source to shelf for our customers, consumers, suppliers and Kimberly-Clark.”

Matt Mace

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