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Climate, Carbon, and Energy

Climate, Carbon, and Energy

Climate, Carbon, and Energy

Climate change poses multiple risks to business and society. At Kimberly-Clark, we are focused on reducing our climate emissions, while simultaneously assessing the climate-related risks that may face our business in the years to come.

Our essential brands and products rely on inputs including forest products, fossil-fuel based plastics, energy and water. Because of the physical and transitional risks associated with a changing climate, we understand that there could be long-term impacts related to cost and supply.   In addition, sustainability considerations are increasingly being incorporated as an element in customer and consumer decision-making and transitioning our business to further align with these emerging preferences provides opportunities to further our purpose of providing Better Care for a Better World with these consumers

Kimberly-Clark is responding to the evident risks and opportunities of this moment by working to conserve energy in our operations while advancing our transition to alternative energy sources. Factoring sustainability considerations into our energy consumption and procurement practices, renewable energy helps prepare us for rising fuel costs and/or the potential introduction of carbon pricing and/or rising fuel costs. Through improving our energy management and access to alternative energy sources, Kimberly-Clark is realizing financial savings and enhancing the long-term reliability of energy for our business. Our response also includes supply chain engagement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build greater climate resilience by promoting sustainable forestry practices, reducing our reliance on fossil-fuel based materials, and increasing the use of alternative, environmentally preferred non-wood and recycled fibers—all important actions to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and build greater climate resilience.

These efforts also allow us to contribute to the objectives of UN Sustainability Development Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy, and Goal 13, Climate Action

Aspiration & Goals

By 2030, reduce the carbon footprint of our products and brands:

  • 50% reduction of absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from a 2015 base year
  • 20% reduction of absolute Scope 3 GHG emissions from a 2015 base year*
  • *Reduction target is focused on emissions from Category 1 (Purchased Goods and Services) and Category 12 (End of Life Treatment of Sold Products).

Calculation of our Scope 1 and market-based Scope 2 GHG emissions inventories is aligned with the World Resource Institute / World Business Council for Sustainable Development Greenhouse Gas Protocol (“GHG Protocol”), Corporate Accounting & Reporting Standard, revised edition. Our Scope 3 assumptions and GHG emissions calculations align with the GHG Protocol's Corporate Value Chain Accounting & Reporting Standard.

Learn more about our climate goals and progress in our 2021 Global Sustainability Report

Strategy & Approach 

We are committed to aggressive, SBTi-approved GHG emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement's principal goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Reducing the carbon footprint of our products and supply chain means pursuing comprehensive climate objectives across four decarbonization strategies:
1.Driving greater energy efficiency throughout our operations
2.Enacting innovative conservation efforts
3.Embracing alternative energy technologies
4.Driving emissions reductions across our value chain

Driving Greater Energy Efficiency Throughout Our Operations

Kimberly-Clark uses a lean energy strategy to drive a culture of energy conservation at our manufacturing sites. An energy management system is embedded into many of our facilities’ daily accountability processes, positioning energy efficiency on the same priority level as safety, quality, delivery, and cost. 

We focus on:

  • Operational systems: process improvement and standard changes to deliver efficiencies
  • Management infrastructure: energy meters and dashboards to aid real-time energy management
  • Mindsets, behaviors, and capabilities: improvement of training, awareness, and recognition

To elevate and continuously improve our management systems, our carbon footprint team and digital solutions team have partnered to develop integrated visual management systems, and we are exploring synergistic opportunities between all elements of sustainability—for example integrated energy and water management systems. These investments in our digital infrastructure and the capabilities of our cross-functional teams are building a strong, standardized, and scalable foundation that aligns with our plans to integrate advanced analytics with artificial intelligence to identify new energy efficiency and supply chain improvements for our facilities and products. 

Enacting Innovative Conservation Efforts

Pursuing continuous improvement in both product sustainability and cost efficiency, we identify and operationalize capital projects that deliver manufacturing cost savings via improved energy efficiency and reduced consumption. We aim to uncover new opportunities for innovation through energy assessments, workshops, best practices analyses, and benchmarking, in parallel with our lean energy initiatives. Examples of our process and facility energy efficiency improvements include variable frequency drives, compressed air systems upgrades, tissue machine drying system upgrades, vacuum system optimization, heat recovery systems, and HVAC systems optimization.

Embracing Alternative Energy Technologies

Our carbon footprint strategy involves significant investment in renewable energy generation. Through on-site installations and power purchase agreements (PPAs), Kimberly-Clark is scaling up our solar and wind inventory to contribute toward our SBTi goal, drive GHG emissions reduction, and reduce our manufacturing and electricity costs.

Some of our manufacturing facilities employ cogeneration units that burn natural gas to generate electricity and reuse the waste heat to produce steam for use in the manufacturing process.  As part of our 2030 SBTi commitment, Kimberly-Clark will continue to pursue strategic partnerships to develop thermal decarbonization technologies and alternative fuels to power our high-thermal-load tissue facilities around the world.

Driving Emissions Reductions Across Our Value Chain

The Scope 3 categories of purchased goods and services and end-of-life treatment of sold products represent over 70% of our value chain emissions inventory. We realize that materials and product design changes are required to achieve our SBTi goals. 

As a first step, our global business teams are determining how to reduce our use of traditional fossil-fuel-based plastics while enhancing the potential of our remaining plastics to be reused or recycled. Teams are also working to increase our use of environmentally preferred fibers and have developed a forest carbon baseline and inventory by measuring the biogenic carbon of the company’s fiber mix across virgin wood fiber, recycled fiber, and sustainable alternative non-wood fibers. This will help us to make decisions and monitor progress as we shift our fiber mix to more sustainable options.  

Our comprehensive Scope 3 GHG emissions reduction strategy utilizes cross-functional teams to drive action across our value chain. In the near term, we are focused on:

  • Reducing our plastics footprint by 50%, prioritizing alternative materials with a lower carbon impact
  • Reducing our natural (Northern) forest footprint by 50% through increasing the use of environmentally preferred fibers and investing in non-wood fiber innovation
  • Engaging and partnering with our suppliers on their Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions reduction targets and strategies to drive ongoing improvement and provide specific emission factors for our materials
  • Developing improved digital capability that will continuously improve the availability and accuracy of our Scope 3 GHG emissions data
  • Addressing our upstream transportation GHG emissions (Category 4) through local logistics efficiency improvements and working with outside logistics partners on renewable fuel options.

We are aware of the recent publication of SBTi’s Corporate Net-Zero standard, the world’s first framework for setting corporate net-zero targets in line with climate science, and have engaged WWF to help explore potential pathways for both interim and net-zero goals.  We will also incorporate new guidance from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol on Land Use Emissions and Removals associated with Scope 3 biogenic carbon, land management and harvested wood product emissions.  

Recent Performance & Metrics

Read about Kimberly-Clark's 2021 performance highlights here 

See our climate and energy data here

Climate Change Resilience

To better communicate the financial implications of our value chain’s climate risks and opportunities, we have adopted the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and published a TCFD-aligned report using the tools and expertise provided by Willis Towers Watson. The findings we share combine results from a qualitative and quantitative assessment of Kimberly-Clark’s transition and physical climate risks and a gap analysis against TCFD’s four core areas: governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets.

Through this kind of holistic assessment, we are better able to align our risk management and strategic planning processes with the evolving challenges of climate change and drive improvements and innovation that build resilience and reduce our impact. We are seeking to improve our climate resilience in the short-term through:.  

·Working to dentify and bring to market more sustainable alternatives to fossil-fuel based plastics and natural forest fibers

·Advancing global deployment of new renewable electricity capacity

·Partnering with material and transportation providers to drive and deliver supply chain carbon footprint reductions

·Working with local governments and alternative fuel suppliers on cost-effective solutions (including green hydrogen, RNG, electrification, and biomass) for further reducing our facilities’ reliance on natural gas

Visit our TCFD Report for more information on our climate strategy.

Published July 2022