SC Johnson publicizes ingredients, eliminates phthalates
SC Johnson chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson has announced that SC Johnson has begun a voluntary new program to provide all ingredient information for its home-cleaning and air-care products, such as Windex®, Shout®, and Glade®. At the same time, Johnson also announced that the company’s plan to eliminate the use of any phthalates in its products is well underway.
Regarding the expansive new ingredient communication program, Johnson says: "Consumers want transparency, and we're committed to providing it. First and foremost, that means information that's clear, always honest, and easy to understand. And second, it means making that information available through a variety of readily accessible channels."
SC Johnson's ingredient transparency will build on an industry right-to-know initiative announced in late 2008. In that voluntary effort, companies would list ingredients—excluding dyes, fragrances, and preservatives—online, on product labels, via toll-free number, or using some other nonelectronic means.
SC’s program includes several components:
• Information will be available through a dedicated Web site (www.whatsinsidescjohnson.com), the company’s toll-free number (1-800-558-5252), and on product labels that will be phased in for all air-care and home-cleaning products. The newly launched Web site currently offers information on Windex Outdoor, Shout Wipes, Glade aerosol, SC Johnson’s new Nature’s Source cleaning products, and more.
• The company intends to list all of its ingredients, including dyes, preservatives, and fragrance ingredients. Fragrances will be shared by listing all ingredients that could potentially be included in the fragrance. This approach helps protect the proprietary details of the specific formulation of individual fragrances, which are a trade secret and competitive advantage for SC Johnson and its supply chain.
• While the industry initiative focuses on English-language communication, SC Johnson will populate its ingredient Web site in both English and Spanish, with the Spanish-language information being added in the second half of 2009. Additionally, SC Johnson Canada will be joining the initiative in the next year, adding Canadian products and providing information about them in both English and French. This will extend the consumer reach by approximately 11 million.
SC Johnson's effort will be rolling out from now through January 2012, with continually increasing information being available on labels, the Web site, and through the company’s consumer hotline. All air-care and home-cleaning products will be included by 2012.
Phthalate elimination underway
In the summer of 2008, SC Johnson began working with its suppliers, requiring them to phase out phthalates from the fragrances they supply for SC Johnson products. This action came in response to an increasing number of questions from consumers.
DEP has been included in some of the fragrances that SC Johnson sources for its products, and used in very small amounts. It is the only phthalate that was used in the fragrances in SC Johnson home cleaning and air-care products. Working with its partners in the supply chain, the company developed a plan to eliminate the use of any phthalates in the fragrances supplied to SC Johnson, and the plan is now well underway, with new and reformulated products being produced without phthalates. The company expects to be out of phthalates completely within the time frame of this plan.
"We continually conduct extensive research and testing to ensure our products meet health, environmental, and safety standards, and are effective. We also listen to our consumers, and at the end of the day, we will consider making a change if it’s really important to the families that use our products," says Johnson. "The particular phthalate that raised concern—DEP—has been extensively researched and has been deemed safe by various scientific bodies. But the larger class of substances in the phthalate family has been more hotly debated, and we understand that sometimes whole categories of substances can erroneously be seen as concerning despite individual items being safe. So even though the chemistry was sound, we decided that making sure consumers know they can trust SC Johnson products was well worth the time and cost to change them."