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Product, Packaging & Circular Systems

Product, Packaging & Circular Systems

Product, Packaging & Circular Systems

Kimberly-Clark seeks to support the transition to a circular economy by taking a comprehensive approach to plastics management and reduction. This ambition includes innovating to provide consumers more circular alternatives that meet their needs, while improving resource efficiency, reducing waste, and partnering to improving waste-handling systems. These efforts also allow us to contribute to the objectives of UN Sustainable Development Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Aspirations & Goals

Kimberly-Clark's aspiration is to reduce our plastics footprint by 50% by 2030 from a 2019 base year through (1) reduction/material efficiency, (2) use of renewable, recycled, or biodegradable substitutes, (3) introduction of reusable products, (4) recover and recycle plastic manufacturing waste and post-consumer waste, and (5) support the development of circular systems and solutions.

Goals that support our 50% plastic footprint reduction:

  • Trackable Plastic Footprint
    • Reduce use of new fossil-fuel-based plastics by 50% compared to the 2019 baseline by 2030.1
    • 20% average recycled content across plastic packaging by 2025.
    • 100% of our manufacturing waste diverted from landfill to beneficial uses.3
  • Designed for Circularity
    • 75% of the material in our products to be compatible with biodegradable2 or technical (including recyclable or reusable) circularity systems by 2030.
    • 100% of our packaging be compatible with either biological or technical (including recyclable or reusable) circularity systems by 2025.
    • Learn more about our plastic goals and progress in our Sustainability Progress Report

Strategy & Approach

Collaborating across our research, engineering, and marketing teams and with our commercial partners, we are seeking ways to reduce our use of new fossil-fuel based plastics, accelerate development of renewable and recycled substitutes, and contemplate alternative product solutions. We also believe in working with key external partners to promote and inform the transition to a more circular economy and provide effective post-consumer solutions to waste. This requires a deep understanding of how products are designed, used, and disposed of in diverse markets, cultures, and regulatory systems around the world.

The complexity of the interconnected environmental challenges also requires that our approach be informed by science, so we are continuing to use life-cycle assessment to help us understand potential tradeoffs and co-benefits associated with our plastics footprint reduction efforts. These assessments deepen our understanding of environmental impacts across the value chain, from raw materials to production and distribution to use and beyond.

Our strategic focus includes three key areas:

1. Packaging:

The first step is to reduce packaging materials and eliminate where possible. The next step is to ensure they are designed for circularity. We continue to replace virgin, fossil-fuel-based plastic packaging with more recycled content. Our practice is not to pursue biodegradable or compostable plastics for our packaging, because of the confusion and pollution it can cause on the waste stream and consumers. As systems have evolved and we know more about their impact on the waste system, we expect to continue to pursue biodegradable options that are made of natural materials for specific applications.

While most of our packaging is currently reusable, recyclable, or compostable, we have identified ongoing challenges associated with packaging plastic films. Availability to recycle flexible film plastic packaging can be challenging where recycling systems are not well established, but we anticipate that growing demand for recycled plastic will play a role in accelerating collection and recycling.

2.  Product:

Our focus now includes defining options to shift from new fossil-fuel-based plastics to renewable, degradable, or recovered materials while maintaining the high standards of quality and performance our consumers expect from our trusted brands.

3. Circular Systems:

We believe that to be successful in our ambitions we need to support development and maturation of waste management infrastructure in both emerging and mature markets. These systems are essential to furthering the recovery and processing of our products and packaging after use. To identify suitable solutions for local contexts, we’re focused on establishing collaborative external partnerships with waste management experts, NGOs, and communities. By creating partnerships and building on existing waste management infrastructure, we intend to develop new business models that can support the management of waste from our products and packaging and be scaled in emerging or mature markets.

Partnerships for a Circular Economy

For a list of our Memberships related to Partnerships for a Circular Economy see our Memberships Webpage.


Published June 2024