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Design for Environment - Eco-Friendly Household Goods - SCJohnson

scjohnson logo

"We believe in contributing to the well-being of the countries and communities where we conduct business. We commit ourselves to advance the economic and social development of every country and community where we do business, and to actively promote a sustainable natural environment." SC Johnson Corporate Policy

The concept of Design for Environment is actively pursued and rewarded in all aspects of SC Johnson operation. Since 1992, the company has cut over 202,000,000 kilograms of waste from its products and processes worldwide, and realized substantial annual cost-savings as a result. Innovative technologies and practices are responsible for reducing the environmental impact of every life cycle stage of each product.

SC Johnson is a private family-owned company founded in 1886. The company has about 9,500 employees throughout its operations in over 60 countries around the world The company manufactures domestic products such as furniture polishes, air fresheners, glass and surface cleaners, insecticides, insect repellents, and shaving gels, which are marketed in 100 countries across the globe.

SC Johnson has one manufacturing site in Australia and a distribution, marketing &sales office in New Zealand, with 150 employees. Products made in Australia include Windex, Toilet Duck, Glade, Raid &Mr Muscle.

Design for environment

SC Johnson manufactures each of its products to strict self-imposed environmental standards. The environmental impact of all products is minimised throughout their entire life cycle, including formulation, packaging, application and disposal. To achieve this, SC Johnson adopted long-term worldwide environmental goals to phase out the use of some specific chemicals, to minimise waste and reduce pollution during manufacturing, to reduce packaging, and to recycle virtually all materials used in manufacturing facilities.

SC Johnson Products

SC Johnson Products

To assess the environmental impact of each product, SC Johnson employs two diagnostic tools: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Success Through Environmental Progress (STEP).

SC Johnson gathers LCA data to identify actions that can be taken to minimise the environmental impact of their products, while continuing to maintain safety and efficiency levels.

SC Johnson created STEP with the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, a U.S.-based non-government organisation. The computerised tool enables systematic measurement of a product's environmental performance using ten key qualitative indicators. Product developers use STEP to consider the relative environmental impacts of various product formulations before testing for effectiveness. The tool also measures the environmental effects of a product's packaging, allowing a designer to compare several packaging system alternatives to determine the best environmental option. The system enables a product's environmental impact to be evaluated early in the design process when changes can be made most economically.

DfE strategies implemented at each life cycle stage of SC Johnson products are as follows.

Design for resource conservation and low-impact materials
Where possible SC Johnson uses recycled materials for packaging. By the end of 1995 the company had reduced the use of virgin packaging components by 26.8 per cent compared to 1990 levels, and increased the use of generally less energy demanding recycled packaging material. Aerosol packages contain at least 25 per cent recycled steel and are themselves recyclable. The company also uses corrugate shipping containers that contain 95 per cent recycled material.

Design for cleaner production and low-impact packaging
Each manufacturing process is regularly assessed to improve environmental performance on air emissions, solid and liquid waste emissions, waste water, energy and fuel use. A waste reduction policy was established during the 1980s requiring regular audits of waste procedures to identify additional waste prevention opportunities. The company has also set itself a target of reducing waste by 50 per cent each year.

Packaging design focuses on maximum capacity and minimum waste. The company is committed to decreasing its contribution to landfill, through recyclable and reusable packaging, reduced-weight packaging and eliminating intermediate packaging through bulk shipment where possible.

Significant environmental savings were made at this life cycle stage by the standardising of product bottles. SC Johnson now produces only two types of product bottles and two spray triggers. This process streamlined production lines through simpler equipment, which subsequently reduced energy and fuel consumption, and provided significant cost benefits.

Design for efficient distribution
Globally, the company is committed to efficient use of road transport when shipping and distributing its products by:

Design for low-impact use
As a chemical formulator the company's expertise lies in the development of products which contain the minimal amount of active ingredients necessary to provide maximum product benefits. The company eliminates ingredients that pose more risk than benefit. The company evaluates all ingredients against current scientific knowledge and re-evaluates as new information emerges. This continual monitoring and analysis system allows the company to identify ingredients for removal from product formulations. All SC Johnson products and processes exceed legislative requirements for environmental performance. For example, the company will not allow the use of many chemicals permitted by Australian legislation.

Design for recycling and safe disposal
SC Johnson works to continually reduce the volume and toxicity of the waste it generates through environmental improvements in products and services. Combined air, water and solid waste disposal in manufacturing operations were cut almost in half from 1990-1995, and all recycling opportunities are investigated before applying other waste management practices.

The company also regularly gathers data on the environmental fate (eg biodegradability profiles of ingredients) of all raw materials to determine those ingredients with a lower environmental impact.

Monitoring and training

SC Johnson uses independent audits, ongoing internal evaluations and management/employee training programs to enable continuous environmental improvement. Environmental training sessions are provided to all staff regularly, and the company induction program includes environmental training for new employees.

Staff responsible for technology advances that reduce waste, risk and cost to the company and the environment are awarded 'WOW' Awards (Win for the Business, Win for the Environment) each year in recognition of their achievements.

The company's global environmental management program and subsequent high level of environmental performance is enhanced by regular reviews of all excisting and emerging environmental legislation and any related scientific information. Environmental performance is tracked annually against specific global targets, which are reported internally with key results available to the public.

Issues and barriers

The main barrier faced by SC Johnson is consistent sourcing of adequate-quality recycled materials for product packaging, namely quality PET plastic for its bottles. The company is currently working with a recycling organisation to identify a quality source of PET material.

Results

SC Johnson is proud of its enhanced environmental standing, stemming from its environmental program, enjoying the reputation of their products as functioning as well as competitors' products while causing less environmental impact.

The company undertakes production knowing that it meets or exceeds compliance standards with all environmental regulations, with improved relations with regulators and the global environmental community as a result. The company has also achieved a high level of environmental awareness among suppliers and staff.

Significant environmental benefits have been achieved through SC Johnson's commitment to environmental protection. Results within Australian operations are outlined below.

Area of environmental impact % reduction or increase
from 1995 to 1999
Waste sent to landfill 63% reduction
Waste water sludge 100% reduction
Total waste recycled 52% increase
Waste water volume 33% reduction
Total COD based pollution
(Chemical Oxygen Demand)
29% reduction
Air emissions 82% reduction
Energy usage
BTU/kg production (British Thermal Unit)
18% reduction
Total emissions 66% reduction
Waste ratio to total production 2.0 (1995), 0.53 (1999)
Virgin packaging ratio to formula weight 0.1796 (1990), 0.1157 (1998)

Future

SC Johnson plans to continue actively working towards sustainable development in its own operations through continuous improvement of the company's products and processes eco-efficiency.

Contact information:

David Cutter
Operations Director
SC Johnson
160 Epping Road
Lane Cove NSW 2066

Phone: 02 9428 9111
Fax: 02 9428 9169

Email: dacutter@scj.com
Internet: www.scjohnson.com

Case study prepared in September 2000