Kimberly-Clark Eyes Bigger Sales of Lower-Impact Products

Kimberly-Clark Eyes Bigger Sales of Lower-Impact Products

Kleenex - CC license by anitakhart/Flickr

Kimberly-Clark announced a new set of environmental and social goals today, putting a deadline on when all of its fiber will be certified sustainable and emphasizing products and packaging with less impact.

The company behind Kleenex, Scott, Huggies and other paper products aims to reduce water use by 25 percent, reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent, purchase only certified sustainable fiber and send no manufacturing waste to landfill.

The goals are all for 2015, with some building off Kimberly-Clark's previous five-year targets. The company will report on its performance toward its 2010 goals in a sustainability report coming out later this month.

In 2009, though, Kimberly-Clark reported that 98 percent of its fiber came from certified sources. The company first announced its intent to use only certified fiber in 2007, but had not put a deadline on it until today.

"We really have only two small suppliers who we need to change," said Suhas Apte, Kimberly-Clark's vice president of global sustainability, "and we believe we'll be able to change them over in the next couple of years."

While the company's fiber policy give preference to Forest Stewardship Council certification, it counts four other certification programs. In 2009, 28 percent of its certified fiber was FSC certified, 33 percent was certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and the rest was certified by Canada's National Sustainable Forest Management Standards, the Brazilian Forest Certification Program or the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes.

Concurrently, Kimberly-Clark is pushing to have 40 percent of the tissue fiber it uses in North America to be FSC certified or recycled by the end of this year, a goal established with the help of Greenpeace following the environmental group's Kleercut campaign against Kimberly-Clark.

In addition to strictly environmental goals, Kimberly-Clark set other new targets for products, customers, employees and communities.

Kimberly-Clark plans to reduce the carbon footprint of its packaging by 20 percent, Apte said, by using recycled content, reducing materials, switching to different materials or lowering packaging weight. 

The company also wants "environmentally innovative products" to account for 25 percent of net sales. Spokesperson Kay Jackson said that includes items like the Scott Naturals line of products, which are made with at least 40 percent recycled content; the tubeless Scott toilet paper rolls being tested in the northeast U.S.; and products that are designed to use less resources, like paper towel that is more absorbant.

Kimberly-Clark also plans to establish social programs in all the communities it operates in, have all contract manufacturers and top suppliers comply with its social standards, have zero workplace fatalities and reach 250 million new customers in the next five years.

Kleenex - CC license by anitakhart/Flickr