For Position Only
2011 investment
in water use reductions:
$12.5 million

Managing Our Water Use

Water is a key input in the manufacturing of Kimberly-Clark tissue products.

Water use in manufacturing is of particular concern in water-scarce or water-stressed regions, such as the European Union, the Middle East, South Africa and Australia, where more than 35 percent of our tissue mills are located.

An internal benchmark for older tissue-machine assets has been 30 cubic meters of water (25 cubic meters in water-stressed regions) per bone-dry metric ton of goods production. After implementing a number of efficiency measures, we achieved a success rate at 58 percent of our mills operating at or below benchmark for water use.

However, our past progress on this metric has been inconsistent, and in 2011 we shifted our strategy to accelerate progress in making an overall reduction in water use by focusing attention and resources on those facilities with strong business drivers to reduce water use. We have targeted the following methods for water reduction:

  • Water efficiency improvements, as we restructure our tissue manufacturing footprint by shifting production to more efficient mills
  • Long-loop recycling to maximize treatment and reuse of process effluent
  • Identifying and sharing water-use best practices within our operations
  • Increasing visibility of water use and our progress on reduction to our businesses

2011 Progress toward Water Reduction

In our previous Vision programs, we tracked our water-usage progress by measuring water use at all our tissue and paper mills and calculating water efficiency. However, as we set our goals for Sustainability 2015, and through our work with NGOs and our Sustainability Advisory Board, we heard that water efficiency was an internal measure for our mills, and external stakeholders view water reduction as a better measure of our impact on water. For this reason, we are now measuring our progress in terms of absolute water reduction. Measuring absolute reduction is also congruent with how we measure our greenhouse gas emissions.

Total Global Water Use (million m3)
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Total global water use (million m3) 144.6 143.3 129.7 128.4 127.3
Tissue Manufacturing Water Use Efficiency (m3/mt)
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Actual 45.6 45.4 43.4 42.7 44.7
Annual target 31.8 31.6 31.4 31.5 30.7
Percent deviation 44.2% 44.0% 38.1% 35.5% 45.4%

Our baseline for measuring absolute reduction is 2010. We used the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's global water tool and the Global Environmental Management Initiative tool for our measurement protocol. We also participated in the development of the Ceres Agua Gauge.

We completed one project to increase water efficiency at our Kluang tissue mill, although other technical issues prevented us from gaining the full benefit. We will continue to address these efficiency issues in 2012. We also moved production from some of our less efficient tissue machine assets.

As this was our first year of reporting absolute water reduction, we also planned projects and invested in technology to help lay the foundation for greater results in the coming years. Based on pilot projects, we had hoped to achieve a 2.5 percent reduction by the end of 2011. The plans implemented in 2011 resulted in approximately a 1 percent reduction in water use.

Compliance with Water Discharge Standards

Since 2000, we have required all facilities and business units to certify, on a quarterly basis, their compliance with our biological oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS) standards. In 2006, we developed a program to monitor acute toxicity at our international mills on a rotating basis and introduced corrective measures at mills where acute toxicity was present. In 2011, we formalized an acute toxicity standard requiring that all wastewater discharges be free of acute toxicity. This standard was met at all but one of our facilities.

Share This
Reduction in water use and maintain quality of discharge

Using a 2010 baseline, we have reduced our absolute water consumption by nearly 1 percent while maintaining water quality.

Fiber from certified suppliers

Nearly 100 percent of our fiber is sourced from third-party-certified suppliers such as the Forest Stewardship Council.

Absolute reduction in GHG

We reduced our absolute global greenhouse gas emissions by over 1 percent, based on a 2010 baseline, primarily driven by lower production levels at our mills.

manufacturing waste to landfill

Under 22 percent of our waste is currently sent to landfills, and our global nonwovens facilities have been virtually landfill-free for a decade.

© 2001-2012 KCWW. All Rights Reserved. EOE