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Consumer brand Kimberly-Clark names first Chief Sustainability Officer

Lisa Morden will lead efforts to cut Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% and Scope 3 emissions by 20% by 2030.
Melodie Michel
Consumer brand Kimberly-Clark names first Chief Sustainability Officer
Lisa Morden, Chief Sustainability Officer, Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark, which owns personal hygiene brands such as Huggies, Kleenex and Kotex, has promoted its sustainability head Lisa Morden to the newly created role of Chief Sustainability Officer.

Morden joined the company in 1994 and has been leading sustainability efforts since 2008, most recently as Vice-President of Safety, Sustainability and Occupational Health. 

She will continue to lead Kimberly-Clark’s sustainability agenda, including its SBTi-approved 2030 target of reducing absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50% and Scope 3 category 1 (purchased goods and services) and 12 (end of life treatment) by 20%.

As of 2023, the company has cut operational emissions by 40.9% and in-scope value chain emissions by 19.3% from its 2015 baseline.

"We are proud of our progress and, in 2023, we continued to address challenges associated with single-use plastics, carbon emissions, and water use in our operations and value chain, while working to decrease forest reliance and increasing our use of renewable energy," said Morden.  "We recognise that there are still challenges and opportunities ahead and we remain dedicated to supporting a more sustainable future for all."

Sustainability commitments regarding plastics and forests

The firm has also launched a new ambition to eliminate “natural forest fibres” from all its products “beyond 2030”, fibres it defines as from “northern boreal or temperate spruce, pine, and fir forests that are primarily naturally regenerating and contain key elements of native ecosystems, including wildlife and biological diversity”. This excludes plantation-grown or planted forests.

Kimberly-Clark is “committed to finding sustainable solutions and materials that reduce [its] environmental footprint while meeting consumers’ essential needs,” according to North America President Russ Torres.

This includes a commitment to halve plastic use by 2030, with measures including switching to recyclable materials in product manufacturing and packaging, as well as diverting waste from landfills. So far, the company says it has achieved a 16.4% reduction.

Kimberly-Clark PFAS lawsuit

To guarantee the safety of its products, Kimberly-Clark has also adopted a ‘restricted substances list’ which prohibits the use of certain chemicals with a demonstrated negative impact on human health. The list includes per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals’ and increasingly proven to cause long-term environmental pollution and health conditions in people.

But at the end of February 2024, the firm was accused of contaminating water around its Connecticut Kleenez factory with PFAS. Residents around the plant have entered into a class action lawsuit against Kimberly-Clark, alleging that PFAS emitted from the facility's smokestacks have contaminated their properties and led to a drop in property values, as well as increasing the risk of diseases. 

Kimberly-Clark’s latest sustainability report makes zero mention of PFAS, but the company has reportedly said the claims are unfounded.

No study has looked for the presence of PFAS in face tissues so far, but they have been found in toilet paper and period products before.