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Water Use and Stewardship

Water Use & Stewardship

Water Use & Stewardship

Water is essential to Kimberly-Clark’s operations and a major input into our tissue manufacturing processes. Mounting pressures, including overconsumption due to rapid population growth, water source contamination, and worsening droughts due to climate change, have led to water scarcity in many regions of the world, including in some areas where Kimberly-Clark has operations. These issues can jeopardize access to sufficient water supplies for people and communities and may lead to mandated water restrictions. In addition to the concerns that water insecurity raises to the economy, environment and people, risks to Kimberly-Clark could include operational disruptions, increased operating costs from rising water prices, and the need for further treatment processes.

Water scarcity and insecurity are global challenges affecting billions around the world but addressing them effectively is an inherently local issue. If water is carefully managed by all stakeholders who depend on a watershed, we can help mitigate these risks, which can enable us to continue to provide consumers with essential products they depend upon every day. These efforts also may further our contributions to the objectives of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation.

Aspiration & Goals

Our 2030 ambition is to reduce our global operational water footprint by 50% versus 2015 at Kimberly-Clark manufacturing sites located in water stressed areas.1 In addition, our goal challenges us to support the local communities surrounding these sites, who face water stress and may need improved access to clean, fresh water.

Learn more about our water goals and progress in our latest Sustainability Report.

Strategy & Approach

’Kimberly-Clark's strategy challenges us to mitigate water risk at our facilities by reducing water consumption and optimizing wastewater treatment before it is returned to the environment. Our teams apply techniques and tools through (1) Water Resilience, (2) Water Efficiency, and (3) Water Stewardship approaches to operationalize this strategy.

We are focused on achieving sustainable water use at Kimberly-Clark manufacturing facilities in water-stressed regions globally, customizing our approach and ambition for the specific needs of each water basin, and we plan to continue prioritizing the most severely impacted regions and our operations that are the most water-intensive.

Water Resilience:

We take an integrated approach that helps mitigate water risk within our direct operations related to regulatory compliance, environmental hazards, and public perceptions through the development of and conformance to management standards.

We strive to identify, classify, and minimize the adverse impacts of potential water pollutants on water ecosystems or human health associated with our activities. Each site is routinely audited against applicable regulatory requirements and Kimberly-Clark's Environmental Performance Standards.

We use credible, publicly available tools to analyze our facilities for water risks and identify sites that are located in areas of High or Extremely High water stress. This is critical to understanding our water use and identifying and prioritizing where to take action.

See highlights of our integrated EHS Management System here.

Water Efficiency

We promote a culture focused on water conservation and water quality in our direct operations that gives ownership and responsibility to facility employees to manage water in a way that provides the business benefits by increasing productivity, eliminating waste, and reducing the cost of compliance.

We work to drive continuous improvement in water management systems at each of our manufacturing facilities through investments in metering, dashboarding, and real-time visual management tools that enable our team members to manage water use more efficiently.

We track overall water withdrawals, water consumption, and water discharge, for each Kimberly-Clark operational site, as well as water-use efficiency (cubic meters per metric ton (m3/MT) of production) at sites that have high water use for manufacturing operations.

Water Stewardship

We strive to maintain a holistic approach to water that focuses not just on our own facilities, but on working to create greater water security for the entire water basin in which those facilities are located.

Because successfully reducing water stress requires a community effort, we helped develop a private-public methodology that seeks to engage local businesses, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to review scientific assessments of the watershed's specific challenges, share best practices and approaches, and implement solutions that drive economic, social, and environmental value.

Learn more about our approach to SDG 6—Clean Water and Sanitation here.

Corporate Governance

Find more information on our Board Oversight here. Corporate Governance (


Effective as of June 2024

1 “Water stress” refers to the ability, or lack thereof, to meet human and ecological demand for water. Compared to scarcity, water stress is a more inclusive and broader concept. It considers several physical aspects related to water resources, including water scarcity, but also water quality, environmental flows, and the accessibility of water. We use the World Resources Institute Aqueduct water tool to identify the regions of water stress. Further work with local internal Kimberly-Clark stakeholders is carried out to identify any additional site risk factors. Together this is used to identify if a facility is considered to be in a water stressed region.