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Working together to create a better future

By Craig Bowman, General Manager UK & Ireland, Kimberly-Clark Professional

As a global manufacturer, Kimberly-Clark’s tissue business is classified as an energy-intensive industry in many markets. We take this position and the opportunities it gives us to be a sustainability leader very seriously.

What I have learned from my 15 years in the cleaning industry, is that we all share a passion for keeping the world safe and helping others lead better lives. Many of the people I meet, day to day, have the same core values and want to give back and take care of the environment and communities where we live and work.

I am very proud to work with my colleagues and peers towards our Kimberly-Clark 2030 sustainability goals, including our global ambition to improve the lives of one billion people in underserved communities around the globe with the smallest environmental footprint.

Committed to product innovation

To do this we all have to consider business end-to-end processes including responsible sourcing, reducing carbon footprint, respecting human rights and diverting waste from landfill. As with many other industries, there is a lot of talk about innovation, as there should be. Yet we must always ensure that when we innovate, we prioritise reducing our impact on the environment.

In 1872, Kimberly-Clark’s first ever product was high quality newsprint made from recycled linen and cotton rags. Today sustainability and ethical behaviour is embedded in everything we do – from product concept and raw materials selection to recycling and disposal, through to user-experience. We have made significant progress towards more sustainable operations, establishing a net zero strategy aligned to four pillars including energy conservation, manufacturing footprint optimisation, alternative and renewable energy, and energy supply.

Renewable energy initiatives

In April, our new purpose-built onshore wind farm located in South Lanarkshire, Scotland became operational. The wind turbines are expected to generate 80 per cent of Kimberly-Clark’s UK electrical power needs.

We will take 160,000 megawatt hours from the wind farm every year, the equivalent of taking 37,000 vehicles off the road.

In addition, in the UK, over £182 million is being invested by K-C and its partners into a number of initiatives, through collaboration with our valued partners. Powering renewable energy from these initiatives, remains a heavy focus within industry to help us meet our net zero objectives.

In 2023 three green hydrogen projects by Kimberly-Clark have won places on the UK Government’s Hydrogen Business Model Strategy shortlist. The three projects include a green hydrogen hub in Barrow-in-Furness, developed in partnership with Carlton Power, which will power Kimberly-Clark’s Cumbria manufacturing facility.

Two of the projects are developed in partnership with HYRO, a joint venture between Octopus Energy Generation and renewable energy company RES, and will see green hydrogen supplied to Kimberly-Clark’s facilities in Flint, and Northfleet. In total the three schemes are expected to provide a total of 50MW of green hydrogen.

Transforming Waste

The RightCycle by Kimberly-Clark Professional was created over 10 years ago. This service, initially offered for personal protective equipment (PPE), helps customers meet their zero waste goals by providing circular solutions for hard-to-recycle products, removing them from landfill or incineration. Over 2,000 tonnes of PPE have been diverted from landfill and incineration.

In 2020, we extended the programme to offer the world’s first dispenser installation and recycling service. Since launch, this service has helped over 300 customer sites recycle over 46,000 dispensers, diverting over 32 tonnes of plastic from landfill or incineration.

And in 2021, it was further extended to close the loop for hand towels in Germany and the UK. Taking up the hand towel recycling service, this service can help companies reduce their waste footprint by up to 25 per cent.

And so, we continue, not to lead but to share our experience and knowledge with our industry. Together we can have a larger, quicker and more positive impact. Let’s recreate what works and continuously innovate, ask questions, and challenge others as we face future challenges together.

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