Kimberly-Clark Corporation used Earth Day to announced its Water for Life focus area as part of the company's Sustainability 2015 strategy. The announcement comes during Earth Week to draw attention to the importance globally of fresh water and the sustainable management of fresh water resources.
Kimberly-Clark's Water for Life program provides a platform on which to collaborate with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to provide clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education to communities around the world.
"Water was chosen as a sustainability focus area, as the availability of potable water is a serious global issue and also has a significant impact on our business," said Suhas Apte, vice president, Global Sustainability.
Water for Life is a sustainability focus area and is a means to help achieve the company's 2015 goal of providing socially focused programs in all K-C communities. K-C uses approximately 34 billion gallons of water per year, but returns 94 percent of the water it uses. Under Water for Life, the company is participating in several water replenishment projects aimed to return at least 200 million gallons per year in water-stressed areas around the world ... the equivalent of more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Supporting watershed development in India
In 2011, Kimberly-Clark was involved in two water replenishment initiatives in India.
The company teamed with Sanskriti Samvardhan Mandal (SSM), a local NGO, to implement the watershed development project, Trickle-to-Stream. The aim is to help alleviate water shortages in Sagroli Village, located in the state of Maharashtra, where K-C's Pune facility is located. The first phase of the project has been completed and was successful in engaging villagers in water and soil conservation. The 2012 project phase will focus on improving access to drinking water.
Trickle-to-Stream used well-established indigenous knowledge and technology and encouraged local ownership including a committee comprised of farmers, teachers, village women, local authorities, and technical experts who worked together to supervise and monitor project work.
A second project in the Akola village in Maharashtra captures monsoon rains by check dams (designed to retain water) to provide an immediate source of water for drinking, washing and irrigation. Prior to this project, the village only had enough water to sustain one crop per year. The water captured in these check dams enabled the village to yield a second crop thus boosting the economy of the village.
Securing water supply in Israel
Kineret Lake, better known as the Sea of Galilee, is the only fresh water source in Israel and provides industry and agriculture with the majority of its water. As the water situation in Israel has grown worse over the past years, K-C's Nahariya mill team worked in partnership with the country's National Water Agency to reduce the facility's water consumption. A private well was drilled to draw water from an underground aquifer containing non-drinking water. This well is now providing about 80 million gallons from the aquifer versus the Kineret Lake, thus replenishing the equivalent of annual water consumption for 6,000 people.
Reducing consumer water use in Spain
Water resources in Spain are a key environmental issue as the country suffers from frequent drought conditions. Since more water is used in flushing toilets than by any other household water use, K-C initiated the Save-a-Flush campaign to provide water saver bags which, when fitted into a toilet tank, displaces 1 liter of water per flush. With a combined annual water savings of 250 million liters, Save-a-Flush is making an important impact in the country.
"These projects are just the beginning of our Water for Life signature program efforts," Apte said. "As we continue to engage governments, NGOs and university thought leaders regarding water scarcity and replenishment, we will be able to better understand the underlying issues facing our communities and find better ways to conserve and make available this precious life resource.