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Kimberly-Clark Speaker Interview

Hear from Daniel Locke, Global Sustainability Product & Packaging Lead

Kimberly-Clark has been working hard on sustainability and innovation - can you tell us a bit more about the scope and objectives of your work in this important area, and give insight into what you might discuss in more detail in September?

irst off, thanks for the opportunity to share exciting new developments and the launch of Kimberly-Clark’s Sustainability 2030 Ambition. Everything we do at Kimberly-Clark is connected to our vision to lead the world in essentials for a better life. We are driven to provide the best for our consumers through our brands such as Kleenex, Huggies and Kotex, and our customers and our communities, all while safeguarding natural systems and minimizing the impact to our planet. We know the world is rapidly changing, and we can only have the scale of positive impact we seek when we align our business with what the world really needs right now.

Developing strategies at Kimberly-Clark is always a cross-functional and collaborative effort and consists of both global and regional stakeholder input. By 2030, we will introduce innovative solutions that reduce our environmental footprint by half in key focus areas. Our ambition to be a leader in driving innovative solutions is supported by aggressive goals for 2025 and 2030.

• 50% reduction in the use of new, fossil fuel-based plastics by 2030.

• 100% of our packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

• 20% average recycled content across plastic packaging by 2025.

Kimberly-Clark believes strategic partnerships and stakeholder engagement will be critical to unlocking new opportunities for sustainability, innovation, and growth across our value chain. To expedite our move to more sustainable materials and processes and address single-use plastics, we’re partnering with stakeholders across our value chain to drive innovation and action in three key areas: Packaging, Product and Waste Management Systems.

We have a long history within our fiber and forestry program of responsible sourcing through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and will continue to leverage these learnings from our tissue businesses to our packaging materials as we explore alternatives to single-use plastics. Reduction where feasible is one of multiple innovation pathways we are applying to meet our goals, but in addition to reduction, we are looking at the use of recycled content, bio-based (renewable) materials, compostable or single-use plastic avoidances from reusable product and packages. Kimberly-Clark will continue to assess the contributions of each pathway as we go forward, as they will all be important to achieve this ambition.”

If you’re interested in learning more on our focus areas of climate, forests, water, ingredients and plastics, please visit our Sustainability 2030 strategy and goals.

2) What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for the paper and packaging industry over the next 12-18 months?

As we survey the external landscape and benchmark movement within the industry, it has become very clear to Kimberly-Clark that the world is rapidly changing in the packaging space and an emphasis is being placed on single-use plastic materials. For packaging specifically, this goes across industries and both governments and NGO’s are turning to Brands and manufacturers to not only be a part of the solution, but pave the way going forward through collaboration and innovation.

The Paper and packaging industry have a great opportunity here to offer solutions and alternatives that help companies achieve their sustainability ambitions. One watch-out that we must be mindful of are the avoidance of unintended consequences in our haste to solve one problem, which may result in the creation of another.

Kimberly-Clark continues to approach our innovation from a life cycle perspective and understands the necessity to avoid unintended consequences through our design choices. We are continuing to build up our life cycle analysis (LCA) capabilities at the product/package/ material design stage of development, as well as considering the end-of-life for materials and waste management infrastructure. Our Plastics Footprint program works closely with the other program areas, such as the carbon and forestry, to ensure we are aligned and working together.

3) What are you particularly looking forward to hearing discussed at PRIMA this year?

Packaging plays a critical role in our sustainability journey as every product Kimberly-Clark sell comes in a package. Waste has no place in business – or in tomorrow’s circular economy. We aspire to be at the forefront of the transition to a circular economy by reducing waste, improving waste-handling systems and innovating new ways of giving consumers the product they need.

I’m excited to learn from all of the expertise and leaders within the paper and packaging industry and in search of opportunities for collaboration to achieve common goals.

One thing is clear to us and that is we cannot go forward alone. Kimberly-Clark is committed to doing our part and seeking partnerships in what we truly believe will be a decisive decade for sustainability.