SC Johnson Expands Ingredient Transparency
By Rose Anthony
In 2015, the grocery industry unveiled its SmartLabel for food packages as a way for consumers to digitally access detailed information about ingredients. That was five years after SC Johnson began disclosing its product ingredients in the U.S.
Now, the maker of iconic brands of household products such as Windex, Pledge, Ziploc and others is expanding its global ingredient transparency program to Latin America.
“Ten years ago, SC Johnson made a commitment to global ingredient transparency. Today, by expanding our program to Latin America, we have fulfilled that commitment,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “By keeping our promise, we have brought ingredient transparency around the world.”
SC Johnson’s pioneering approach began in earnest in 2009, with ingredient disclosure programs launched in the U.S. and Canada. In 2016, the company unveiled its European ingredient transparency program. One year later, the Asia Pacific market was added to SC Johnson’s global ingredient transparency program. Latin America is the final piece of the puzzle.
The company’s global ingredient transparency program now provides information for more than 8,700 products used in nearly every country in the world in 35 languages. By meeting this important commitment, the company is now able to offer unparalleled access to nearly 6 billion consumers, providing a comprehensive list of product ingredients for the company’s many well-known brands.
Consumers today expect more from companies, including information about the ingredients in the products they use. According to a recent global public opinion study, 74 percent of consumers worldwide expect companies to provide product transparency on their products and services.
“While some companies have been slow to incorporate ingredient transparency with their products, SC Johnson has always led from the front,” observed Ken Cook, President of Environmental Working Group. “I applaud Fisk Johnson for his steadfast commitment to consumers as a global leader in ingredient transparency.”
The company has led the charge with governmental bodies for positive reform of chemical management and disclosure. When the company first announced its ingredient transparency plan, regulations requiring ingredient disclosure did not exist.
For example, SC Johnson began disclosing product-specific fragrance ingredients in 2015. Two years later, in 2017, Procter and Gamble, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser announced plans to increase their own products’ fragrance disclosure.
SC Johnson’s Greenlist ingredient selection program helps the company continually improve its products by choosing ingredients to better protect human health and the environment. People can now see, in detail, the care that goes into choosing each of the ingredients that are used in SC Johnson products.
The program has guided the company’s product development for nearly two decades. Every ingredient in every product goes through a rigorous evaluation, which is centered around a peer-reviewed, four-step evaluation of its potential impact on human health and the environment. The program looks at both hazard and risk to select the ingredients the company uses, and at what concentration, if at all. It's grounded in best-in-class data collection and driven by the company's commitment to continually improve its products.
As part of the Greenlist program, SC Johnson maintains a list of ingredients that are not allowed in its products. This list is termed the “Not Allowable” list. It includes over 200 unique raw materials in roughly 90 material categories, and over 2,400 fragrance materials. These materials all meet legal and regulatory requirements, but simply do not meet SC Johnson standards.
“The demands for transparency are not going to decrease and there are a lot of enabling technologies like blockchain that will make traceability and transparency much easier for everybody and more affordable,” said Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor of GreenBiz Group. “So, as those increase and become more available, I think that will also lead to more demands for transparency.”
With its ingredient disclosure commitment met, SC Johnson is not stopping. Transparency will continue to be a priority as the company continually strives to be the most trusted company in its industry through greater transparency.
“We aren't done with transparency by a longshot,” Johnson said. “Transparency is ingrained in our values and helps us remain focused on how we operate as a global company to earn the trust of consumers around the world.”