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Water Use and Stewardship

Water Use & Stewardship

Water Use & Stewardship

Water is essential to Kimberly-Clark’s operations particularly as 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 those in which Kimberly-Clark maintains operations. These issues can jeopardize access to sufficient water supplies and may lead to mandated water restrictions. These pressures could expose Kimberly-Clark to various risks such as continuity of operations and increased operating costs from rising water prices and the need for further treatment processes to maintain the necessary quality standards. Only if water is carefully managed by both Kimberly-Clark and the communities in the water basin, can we help mitigate these risks and prepare our company to continue providing our customers with essential products and protect shareholder value. These efforts also allow us to contribute to the objectives of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, Clean Water and Sanitation. 

Aspiration & Goals

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

Learn more about our water footprint goals and progress in our 2021 Global Sustainability Report.

[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.

Strategy & Approach

Our water strategy focuses on a series of short-term milestones that are expected to lead to long-term improvements across our own operations, in our surrounding communities, and throughout our supply chain.

Total Water Management

Taking an integrated approach helps mitigate water risk related to quantity, quality, and aging infrastructure and provides business benefits by increasing productivity and reducing waste and the cost of compliance.

We are focused on achieving sustainable water use at Kimberly-Clark manufacturing facilities in water-stressed regions, prioritizing the most severely impacted regions and those aspects of our operations that are the most water-intensive.

Lean Water

A culture focused on water conservation and water quality in our manufacturing operations gives ownership and responsibility to facility employees to manage water with a similar priority level as safety, quality, delivery, and cost.

We 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 use efficiency (m3/MT of production) for all Kimberly-Clark industrial sites, as well as water use at industrial facilities located in water-stressed regions (m3). This is critical to understanding our water use and identifying and prioritizing where to take action.

Water Stewardship

We maintain a holistic approach to water that focuses not just on our own facilities, but on creating 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 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.

Since 2017, Kimberly-Clark has been working with Deltares, an independent water research organization, to develop WaterLOUPE, a tool that can visualize water scarcity risks due to climate change, population growth, and other factors over a 30-year timeframe. Local stakeholders, including municipalities, communities, businesses, and NGOs, can use these insights to identify potential solutions for conserving freshwater supplies and reducing the risk of water shortages.

Recent Performance & Metrics

See highlights of Kimberly-Clark's 2021 water use and stewardship efforts here.

See our water data here.

Effective as of June 2022