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Good OM Reading: Kimberly Clark’s Drive for Sustainability

May 17, 2012

The latest MIT Sloan Management Review (May 15, 2012) reports on consumer products giant Kimberly Clark’s efforts towards sustainability, an important topic in our OM courses (Supplement 5). The 140 year old company (57,000 employees in 36 countries)has more than a billion people use its products (which include Kleenex, Huggies, and Kotex) every day!

The company has had 4 global five-year goals, looking at energy reduction and energy efficiency, water use reduction and efficiency gains. For 2000, it addressed chemical issues. For 2005, it addressed packaging, and had a 10% reduction in weight in packaging goal. For 2010, it looked at lifecycle analysis of all product initiatives. For 2015, the focus is broader– on people, the planet and products. “That equates to the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainability. That’s the triple bottom line for us,” says Peggy Ward, director of sustainability.

“On the planet side, we’re still following our traditional focus on energy, waste and water,” she adds, “but we’re pushing ourselves even further. So, we’ve set an absolute greenhouse gas reduction goal of 5%. On the water side, our goal is a 25% reduction in water use. And in waste, our goal is to achieve zero manufacturing waste sent to landfill. About 48% of our mills are landfill-free currently.”

New products at Kimberly Clark include Scott Naturals Tube Free– bath tissue rolls that do not have that cardboard core ( meaning you can use every single sheet of the roll.) The amount of waste that will be eliminated that’s going to landfills is large — basically it’s enough to go to the moon and back two times.  Huggies Pure and Natural  diapers have a component that has a renewable alternative material in it — instead of a petrochemical-based input. It has organic cotton, it’s fragrance-free and dye-free and it has 20% post-consumer recycled content.

This is a good article to share with your class when you are discussing sustainability.

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