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Sustainability is a responsibility, not a choice: Kimberly-Clark

The consumer giant aims to achieve 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2022; it is also seeing progress in tackling packaging waste through its recycling and reuse initiatives

Kimberly-Clark had partnered with Singapore-based solar energy provider Sunseap to install 7,730 photovoltaic roof panels at its Tuas facility to generate 3.5 gigawatt hours of clean energy.


FOR consumer giant Kimberly-Clark, sustainability is not a choice, but rather a responsibility. This is why it has been working to reduce its waste and carbon footprint at all its global manufacturing facilities over the years.

Singapore is no exception. Most recently, Kimberly-Clark invested S$25 million into its Tuas manufacturing facility with plans to double its exports and expand its production capacity. Out of that amount, 15 per cent will go into sustainable business practices, it told the The Business Times.

In May, the consumer giant switched on its new solar energy installation at its Tuas manufacturing facility, replacing 15 per cent of conventional energy use with renewable energy.

This translates to a reduction of green house gas emissions by around 1,600 metric tonnes a year - equivalent to removing nearly 350 passenger cars from roads annually.

Achal Agarwal, president, Kimberly-Clark Asia-Pacific, said at the time that switching on the solar roof was part of the group's progress in achieving 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2022.

The group had partnered with Singapore-based solar energy provider Sunseap to install 7,730 photovoltaic roof panels to generate 3.5 gigawatt hours of clean energy - enough to power up to a thousand three-bedroom HDB flats for one year.

On top of energy savings, Kimberly-Clark's Tuas manufacturing facility in Singapore recycles more than 75 per cent of its waste water and diverts nearly all its manufacturing waste before it hits the landfill. Globally, 95 per cent of its manufacturing waste is diverted before reaching landfills.

"Nearly everything, including the material and product waste consisting of non-woven fabrics, super absorbent fluff, plastic and paper, is all recycled and makes its way back into the production line," the group said.

Although the group did not disclose how much its Tuas mill contributes to global revenue, it called Asia-Pacific its "largest market outside the United States".

The Tuas mill exports what it manufactures to markets across the Asia-Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, China, and multiple Asean countries.

This includes products like Huggies diapers and pull-up pants and wet wipes.

Another area the consumer giant is looking at is post-consumer waste, especially packaging waste. It says it is seeing progress through its recycling and reuse initiatives.

Since 2017, the group has partnered with researchers at Ngee Ann Polytechnic to find uses for material waste generated during its production process.

In Malaysia, Kimberly-Clark's Kluang Mill in the Johor state partnered with local and international non-governmental organisations to determine its impact on local watershed. This has allowed the mill to reduce fresh water usage by about 70 per cent since 2011.

This was after it invested in water recycling to reduce the amount of fresh water needed to make products, and engaged the local community through education events and river clean-ups.

"While Malaysia typically has an abundance of fresh water, external constraints such as rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and climate change have led to droughts and severe water shortages in recent years," the company said.