Kimberly Clark News - Positions & Policies
Positions & Policies

      

Learn more about our positions and policies on topics related to the environment, social impact, governance and product safety.

Environmental

Kimberly-Clark is committed to protecting the environment, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, and extending our zero-waste mindset
across the value chain. Not only is this an important social responsibility –
it creates value for our business, customers, consumers, and employees.

Alternatives to Plastic

We are making significant investments that enable our essential products to become more circular. This includes innovating future materials that are renewable, recyclable or biodegradable, and partnering with global thought leaders and local stakeholders to build systems and infrastructure that meet our consumers’ needs while leaving the smallest possible impact on the environment.

Our ambition to be a leader in driving innovative solutions is supported by aggressive global actions to address plastics. By 2030, one of our goals is that 75% of the material in our products will be either biodegradable or will be recovered and recycled. This goal is part of our global ambition to improve the lives of 1 billion people in underserved communities around the globe by 2030, with the smallest environmental footprint.

Achieving this ambition will take game-changing innovation, and we’re partnering with global NGOs, investors and leading innovators such as RWDC Industries to create this future. We are working jointly with RWDC to develop cost-effective biopolymer solutions, including a new source material made from renewable plant-based polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). PHA is just one of the innovations that we plan to use to make additional products with marine-degradable materials across multiple Kimberly-Clark categories.

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Climate Change

Setting and achieving aggressive climate goals has been part of Kimberly-Clark's sustainability journey for more than 25 years. We acknowledge the scientific consensus that GHG emissions from human activity, including those from our own operations, contribute to climate change, and we believe action must be taken to prepare our business for a low-carbon future.

In 2020, Kimberly-Clark announced expanded new targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the company remains committed to working collaboratively with industry peers, external stakeholders, and policymakers in seeking solutions that align with our business and help to achieve our energy and climate objectives.

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Conflict Minerals

Billions of people choose our products each day to make a positive difference in their lives. That's a big responsibility and one we take seriously. That commitment allows us to secure the trust of our shareholders, employees and other interested parties by managing our business responsibly.

To ensure conflict minerals compliance, all Kimberly-Clark suppliers are required to assist Kimberly-Clark in complying with government regulatory requirements on conflict minerals use and reporting in all regions. This includes not sourcing tin, tungsten, tantalum, or gold from uncertified smelters in the conflict region, which consists of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjacent countries.

More information can be found in our conflict minerals report.

Environmental Responsibility

Kimberly-Clark is committed to safeguarding natural systems and the life they support. Not only is this an important social responsibility – it creates value for our business, customers, consumers, and employees.

It is the policy of Kimberly-Clark to design, manufacture, and deliver its products and to operate its business in a way that protects the environment and promotes the sustainable use of natural resources, including forests, water, raw materials, and energy, while extending our zero-waste mindset across the value chain.

This policy provides guidance on how we handle and address environmental compliance, and commit appropriate resources to achieve our goals through innovation, operational efficiency, and aligning Kimberly-Clark’s supply chain with this policy.

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Forests & Biodiversity

By taking action to protect forests, Kimberly-Clark is working to address climate change, conserve terrestrial biodiversity and ensure a resilient, healthy supply chain through innovation and responsible sourcing.  

More than a decade ago, Kimberly-Clark launched an industry-leading fiber procurement policy that sought to minimize our impact on the world's forests. Today, we are helping to sustain the natural resources needed to manufacture the company’s products and packaging, and our ongoing efforts to reduce our use of natural forest fiber from high carbon value forests and increase our use of environmentally preferred fibers (such as alternative and recycled fibers) will continue to be important levers for lowering our forest carbon footprint. 

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Flushability

Kimberly-Clark makes flushable wipes under the Cottonelle® and Scott® brands that are safe to be flushed. These innovative products are engineered to rapidly lose strength as soon as they are flushed, ensuring they are compatible with the operational requirements of public sewer systems. 

Cottonelle® and Scott® flushable wipes use our patented SafeFlush Technology, which allows them to be durable for wiping, and to break up after flushing. Kimberly-Clark flushable wipes exceed the requirements of widely accepted industry guidelines for flushability and will clear properly functioning toilets and drain-lines, and are compatible with sewers, pumps, and septic and municipal treatment systems. That why we confidently stand by our flushability claims. 

However, we also make Huggies® baby wipes and Kleenex® wet wipes that are not flushable and carry a prominent Do Not Flush logo. Kimberly-Clark is committed to helping consumers understand what is – and is not – safe to flush.  

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Plastics

We are working to play an active role in the transition to a circular, reuse economy by reducing waste, promoting waste-handling system improvements and innovating new ways of providing consumers with the products that they need to live their best lives. We realize getting there will take game-changing innovation, and we know we're up to the challenge. 

Our ambition to be a leader in driving innovative solutions is supported by aggressive goals for 2025 and 2030. To expedite our move to more sustainable materials and processes, we’re partnering with stakeholders across our value chain to drive innovation and action in three key areas, including packaging, products and waste management systems.

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Science Based Targets initiative

In June 2020, Kimberly-Clark announced expanded new targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Kimberly-Clark's ambitions for 2030 include a commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations and supply chain for its trusted brands, including Huggies®, Kleenex®, Cottonelle®, Scott®, Kotex® and Depend® by 50 percent for absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions (direct and indirect) from its operations. The commitment also includes a 20 percent reduction in absolute Scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services and end of life treatment of sold products. Both targets are based on a new 2015 base year.

Targets are considered "science-based" if they align with what is necessary to limit global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C, according to the latest climate science.

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Waste Management

We understand the value of materials in our product and packaging categories and seek secondary, beneficial uses of these materials from source to shelf – and beyond. We are committed to reducing, reusing, and recycling wastes of all types and are continuously seeking to improve processes to avoid the need to landfill any waste.  

We are focused on delivering innovation to help keep products and packaging material in circulation by seeking secondary, beneficial uses that reduce the volume and weight of materials destined for disposal. 

Further, we are collaborating with stakeholders to protect, conserve, and replenish natural resources and minimize the use of nonrenewable resources, and working to increase consumer education related to disposal options. 

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Water Usage

Water is one of the world's most vital resources and a key input material to our tissue manufacturing processes. Preserving water resources is an environmental, social, and business priority for us, with a focus on our operations in high water-stressed locations. 

We continue to invest in water use reduction with a focus on the company’s operations at high risk for water stress, and we conduct local engagement at the community level to identify appropriate environmental and social actions customized to improve the local situations. 

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Social

We aim to advance the well-being of 1 billion people through programs and innovation focused on delivering essentials for a better life.

Collective Bargaining

Kimberly-Clark maintains a strong commitment to respect basic worker rights and to promote responsible corporate conduct throughout its global operations. Further, we respect our employees’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. 

Kimberly-Clark competes in a dynamic global industry and must make difficult business decisions to adapt to changing market conditions and maintain a competitive position. Those difficult decisions can include workforce reductions. When faced with such decisions, the company’s actions always value respect, responsible corporate behavior, and always comply with the law. 

Employee Resource Groups

Our employee resource groups (ERGs) help drive diversity and inclusion within Kimberly-Clark, and ERGs aim to foster greater understanding of different perspectives and backgrounds through cultural events and panel discussions. These groups are an important forum for career mentorship and development, and they also give back to our local communities through regular volunteer activities. 

ERGs include the African Ancestry Employee Network (AAEN), Capabilities First, Asian Professionals for Excellence (APEX), Family Caregivers Network (FCN), Latin American Network for Diversity (LAND), New Employee Opportunity Network (NEON), Parent’s Interactive Network (PIN), People Respecting Individual Differences Everywhere (PRIDE), SALUTE and the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN).

Gender Pay

Kimberly-Clark is committed to closing gender pay gaps and fostering an inclusive environment where every employee can bring their authentic selves to work.

Importantly, gender pay reporting is different than equal pay reporting. Equal pay is about the pay differences between men and women who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value. It is unlawful to pay employees unequally because of their gender.

The gender pay gap shows the difference in the average pay and bonuses between all men and all women across an employer. Looking at gender pay is just one of the ways we are working to bring gender balance to our workforce.

Human Rights

It is the policy of Kimberly-Clark to promote and support human rights, including equal employment opportunities. Kimberly-Clark is committed to ensuring that employees around the world—including those of our suppliers—are treated with respect, and that our workplace and human rights standards are met. 

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Human Rights in Employment

It is the policy of Kimberly-Clark to promote and support human rights, including equal employment opportunities, and to recognize universal human rights on a global basis. 

We encourage the abolition of discriminatory laws and practices, and prohibit discrimination and/or harassment based on race, ethnicity, color, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, creed, national origin, disability, legally protected leave, veteran status, political opinion, and other categories protected by applicable law.

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Human Trafficking

Kimberly-Clark stands against slavery and human trafficking. In line with our values, our Code of Conduct establishes the company's expectations and creates accountability for our people with respect to human rights and other ethical concerns.  

Similarly, we have published Supplier Social Compliance Standards that sets forth our principles and procedures to hold suppliers, employees, and contractors accountable for combating forced labor and human trafficking. Kimberly-Clark provides training on human trafficking and forced labor for its employees and managers with direct responsibility for our supply chain, which includes a strong focus on identifying and mitigating risks. 

Pursuant to the UK Modern Slavery Act, California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, and the Australia Modern Slavery Act, we have outlined the steps that Kimberly-Clark has taken to combat slavery and human trafficking globally. 

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Our business success is intricately tied to creating workplaces, communities and experiences where inclusion and diversity is embedded in everything we do. This means we must ensure that the daily reality for all of our employees matches our values. We know that our differences make us unique, and they also make us stronger as a team. 

Each of our employees brings a valuable skillset and background to the table, and we cannot succeed as a company unless all of our employees feel included and empowered to be the best version of themselves. We continuously work to foster an environment where our employees allow us to make better business decisions, create innovative products and enhance the experiences of our consumers. 

We recognize that talent and skills are not defined by race, color, religion, sex/gender, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender identity, genetic information, veteran status, education, or background. Kimberly-Clark's Human Rights in Employment Policy prohibits discrimination and/or harassment based on these factors and any other categories protected by applicable law. 

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Indigenous Rights

We recognize the challenges posed by the dual climate and biodiversity crises, and we also know that our fiber sourcing footprint overlaps with communities that will be disproportionately impacted by climate change and biodiversity loss – Indigenous communities, and communities that depend on forests for their livelihoods. That's why, looking ahead, we are aligning our 2030 ambitions to tackle these issues as well.  

We believe FSC® certification applies the most rigorous criteria for the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of the rights of Indigenous communities. These are two important reasons why FSC®-certified virgin fiber is the only virgin fiber we consider to be an environmentally preferred fiber and allow to count toward our goal to reduce our natural (northern) forest fiber footprint by 50% by 2025.  

We will continue to look beyond our FSC® commitment for additional ways Kimberly-Clark can support the well-being and land tenure rights of Indigenous and other under-represented forest-dependent communities within our sphere of influence, while simultaneously delivering climate and biodiversity benefits. 

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LGBTQ+ Rights

Kimberly-Clark embraces diversity in all of its forms. We value the unique and varied characteristics, life experiences and perspectives of our employees, and believe that a workforce that reflects our consumer base provides insights and ideas that will strengthen our position as a global leader.  

We also recognize that talent and skills are not defined by race, color, religion, sex/gender, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender identity, genetic information, veteran status, education, or background. 

Kimberly-Clark's Human Rights in Employment Policy prohibits discrimination and/or harassment based on these factors and any other categories protected by applicable law. 

Social Impact

Kimberly-Clark’s social impact ambitions aim to serve unmet societal needs, with the goal of advancing the well-being of 1 billion people in underserved communities through programs and innovation focused on delivering essentials for a better life.

We have identified three strategic areas of focus that will help us unlock the greatest societal benefit and will guide our efforts during the coming decade:

  • We care for the health and well-being of people at all stages of life. 
  • We challenge stigmas and champion the progress of women everywhere. 
  • We champion a world where all enjoy access to clean water and sanitation.

These efforts support of three of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being; SDG 5 - Gender Equality; and SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation.

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Workplace Safety

It is the policy of Kimberly‐Clark to manage occupational safety and hygiene globally for the protection of our employees, contractors and visitors and to aggressively drive towards the elimination of occupational injuries, illnesses, disabilities and fatalities.

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Governance

Quality, Service and Fair Dealing - Kimberly-Clark was founded on these
guiding principles back in 1872, and they remain the same today. These
principles are the foundation for how we work together with our partners,
our customers and ourselves.

Antitrust Compliance

It is the policy of Kimberly-Clark not to violate or appear to violate antitrust laws. This policy prohibits agreements or understandings with any competitor regarding the production, marketing or sale of Kimberly-Clark’s products and services, including any agreements or understandings to restrict production, allocate customers or markets or fix prices or other terms and conditions of sale. 

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Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors and Global Leadership Team are accountable for ensuring good corporate governance. Kimberly-Clark's board of directors has 11 independent members, in accordance with the New York Stock Exchange listing standards. Our chairman and CEO Michael Hsu is the only board member not considered independent. 

Our Audit, Nominating and Corporate Governance, and Management Development and Compensation Committees consist entirely of independent board members. Our Code of Conduct and corporate policies inform employees that we expect consistent, ethical behavior and compliance with applicable laws. The Code of Conduct and corporate policies apply worldwide. 

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Charitable Donations

It is the policy of Kimberly-Clark to make reasonable contributions to qualified charitable, educational and similar organizations. 

The company manages the disbursement of charitable funds at the local level in communities where the corporation has facilities as well as through the Kimberly-Clark Foundation for gifts to eligible organizations.

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Code of Conduct

Since 1872, Kimberly-Clark has embraced the same core values of authenticity, accountability, caring and innovation. These values reflect an understanding of our responsibility to make a positive contribution to the people we serve around the globe. In all that we do, we’re building a legacy of positive impact. 

We define these expectations in our Code of Conduct. It guides our employees to make the right decisions for Kimberly-Clark, our customers and consumers by fostering a culture of integrity. We hold our business partners to the same high standards that we hold ourselves.

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Corporate Governance Policies

Kimberly-Clark and its Board of Directors believes that there is a direct connection between good corporate governance and long-term, sustained business success, and that it is important to uphold sound governance practices. The Board has adopted policies to guide Kimberly-Clark on matters of corporate governance. 

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Independent Board of Directors

Kimberly-Clark’s Board of Directors believes that a size of 11 to 14 members is optimal for a corporation of our size and structure, and it has established that a majority of the Board members shall be independent directors. It has established independence standards as part of its Corporate Governance Policies to assist it in making independence determinations, including the categorical standards set forth in Annex A to these guidelines.

These categorical standards are consistent with the listing standards of the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and applicable laws and regulations. The Board will consider all relevant facts and circumstances in making independence determinations. 

Political Action Committees

Kimberly-Clark does not sponsor a corporate political action committee (PAC), nor does it use corporate funds to contribute to any federal, state or local candidates, political parties, or other political committees. 

Further, Kimberly-Clark’s Code of Conduct and Anti-Corruption Policy prohibit employees and representatives from making contributions on behalf of Kimberly-Clark to candidates for political office or for other political campaigns.

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Political Donations

Our commitment to corporate responsibility guides everything we do, including our work to help develop public policy and legislation that supports our business priorities.  

Kimberly-Clark’s government relations team leads our global participation in the public policymaking process and leads our connection with issues that affect our employees, our consumers and our business objectives. Our Board of Directors oversees our public policy activities through its Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. 

Kimberly-Clark does not use corporate funds to contribute to any federal, state or local candidates, political parties, or other political committees. We also do not sponsor a corporate political action committee (PAC). 

Further, Kimberly-Clark’s Code of Conduct and Anti-Corruption Policy prohibit employees and representatives from making contributions on behalf of Kimberly-Clark to candidates for political office or for other political campaigns. 

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Product Safety

The safety of our consumers is our number one priority, which is why we
take our responsibility for developing safe and effective products seriously.
All of our products undergo thorough internal and independent safety
evaluations that support our confidence in the quality and safety of our products.

Aloe

When Kimberly-Clark uses an aloe as an ingredient in one of our personal care products, it is taken from the Aloe Vera inner leaf and does not contain known components of concern, or it is taken from an Aloe Vera whole leaf that has been purified by a process known as decolorization to remove known components of concern. Importantly, this Aloe Vera ingredient used by Kimberly-Clark is not the same form as the non-decolorized (unpurified) whole leaf extract listed on California Proposition 65.

Animal Testing

Kimberly-Clark does not test our products or ingredients on animals unless required by law, regulation, or a governmental authority or unless no alternative method is available to ensure human safety prior to product use. We are committed to using alternative methods thereby ending the need for animal testing.

We continue our investment and collaboration with independent research programs seeking to improve current non-animal assessments and the discovery of new alternative methods.

Bleaching

Kimberly-Clark does not use chlorine bleaching for pulps used in our products. Instead, we use chlorine-free pulp, which is categorized as either "totally chlorine-free" (TCF) or "elemental chlorine-free" (ECF). TCF pulp has been bleached without any type of chlorine or has not been bleached at all. ECF pulp has been bleached with a chlorine derivative such as chlorine dioxide (ClO2), but without elemental chlorine (Cl). Chlorine dioxide is also used in bleaching flour and purifying water. Kimberly-Clark uses this process to enhance the safety and environmental compatibility of our products and manufacturing operations.

Chemicals of Concern

Kimberly-Clark has rigorous safety and quality requirements, and we are proud of our long track record of producing safe products. This commitment to safety includes the ingredients used in our products. We maintain a Restricted Substances List to ensure a consistent, global approach to safeguarding our consumers and the environment from exposure to ingredients of potential concern.

Some chemicals can be present in trace, or residual, accounts due to their natural (or background) presence in water, the environment, or as part of the manufacturing process. Where this occurs, we ensure that the presence is minimal, and is well below established safe levels set by regulatory authorities.

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Fragrances

We offer products that are scented and also scent-free options to meet the needs of our customers and consumers. Our fragrances are created taking into account our internal safety standards, as well as the safety standards set by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA).

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Not in Our Products

Nothing is more important to Kimberly-Clark than the quality and safety of our products and the well-being of the consumers who use them. We have rigorous safety and quality requirements, and we are proud of our long track record of producing safe products. This commitment to safety includes the ingredients used in our products. 

We maintain a Restricted Substances List to ensure a consistent, global approach to safeguarding our consumers and the environment from exposure to ingredients of potential concern. And, we are committed to reducing or eliminating restricted substances and to implementing the use of alternatives through our continuous research and development efforts.

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Palm Oil

Kimberly-Clark is committed to the sustainable sourcing of all raw materials used in our products, and we maintain strict corporate policies that emphasize sustainability and sound environmental practices throughout our businesses. 

Kimberly-Clark is not a direct purchaser of palm oil but does purchase some ingredients that can be derived from plant oils such as palm oil. Due to the complexity of the supply chain for these ingredients, it is difficult to verify the origins of the raw materials used to produce them. 

Kimberly-Clark is supportive of efforts to end deforestation and promote sustainable sourcing of materials, including those derived from palm oil. 

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Preservatives

Just like food, preservatives help to keep our products fresh and safe. Without preservatives, any product that has just enough water in them to support the growth of bacteria, yeast, or mold, can become contaminated with the bacteria, yeast or mold found in your everyday environment. That includes most moist wipes, hand soaps, lotions and shampoos. 

Preservatives are added at low levels to ensure that the product doesn’t become contaminated over the time it takes the consumer to finish the product. Every preservative that we use must follow our safety evaluation process for approval and comply with local regulatory requirements. 

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Product Quality

It is the policy of Kimberly-Clark to design, manufacture and deliver products that meet or exceed customer expectations for quality, performance, and value. Kimberly-Clark requires high quality for all purchased materials, products and services that consistently meet customer’s and consumer’s needs, perform as intended and are safe for their intended use.

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Recycled Fiber

Protecting the world’s forests is important to Kimberly-Clark, and to our consumers, which is why we are committed to making our products in ways that provide the health and hygiene benefits that consumers expect from our products while ensuring the resilience of the forests where we sustainably source our fiber. 

More than a decade ago, Kimberly-Clark launched an industry-leading fiber procurement policy that sought to minimize our impact on the world's forests. We focused our strategy on reducing our use of natural forest fibers by 50% by 2025, while increasing our use of environmentally preferred fibers - including recycled and alternative fibers, as well as virgin fibers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council®.

Recycled fiber continues to be an important part of our fiber strategy. As we innovate the future of sustainable alternative non-wood fibers, we’re working to ensure they are environmentally and socially preferable to other virgin wood fiber sources, and that they do not lead to loss of necessary food crops or high conservation value ecosystems. 

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Residuals

Chemicals that are found in very low amounts (some barely detectable, measured in parts per billion or even parts per trillion) are referred to as “residues” and/or “traces.” Identifying these depends upon what analysis is used and how sensitive the test is. Today, it is possible to detect smaller and smaller amounts of substances by using advanced analysis and detection techniques – even at amounts that are well below the levels that are established as safe for human use/consumption. 

We want our consumers to have confidence in our products, and that starts with using safe materials and making safe products, all of which go through our robust product safety analysis. Each ingredient is screened against our established principles and guidelines to ensure new and existing products continue to meet or exceed expectations. When traces are identified, we collaborate with supply chain partners to reduce, eliminate, or manage these chemicals. 

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Safety Commitment

Kimberly-Clark has a long history of providing products that improve the health, hygiene, and well-being of people everywhere. 

The safety of our consumers is our number one priority, which is why we take our responsibility for developing safe and effective products seriously. All of our products undergo thorough internal and independent safety evaluations that support our confidence in the quality and safety of our products. 

Further, we constantly strive to identify and develop new solutions that respond to consumers’ needs while also proactively evaluating new research findings and changing regulatory requirements. 

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