Managing Our Water Use
Water is a key input in the manufacturing of Kimberly-Clark tissue
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
|Total global water use (million m3)
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.