2006 Designing Greener Chemicals Award

S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

 

GreenlistTM Process to Reformulate Consumer Products

 

Innovation and Benefits: S.C. Johnson developed GreenlistTM, a system that rates the environmental and health effects of the ingredients in its products. S.C. Johnson is now using GreenlistTM to reformulate many of its products. For example, S.C. Johnson eliminated the use of nearly 4 million pounds of polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) annually after its "Greenlist" review of Saran Wrap® revealed opportunities for changes.

Summary of Technology: S.C. Johnson (SCJ) formulates and manufactures consumer products including a wide variety of products for home cleaning, air care, personal care, insect control, and home storage. For more than a century, SCJ has been guided by the belief that, because it is a family business, it must consider the next generation when it makes current product decisions, not merely the next fiscal quarter. The most recent initiative in SCJ's long history of commitment to environmentally preferable products is its GreenlistTM process, a system that rates the environmental footprint of the ingredients in its products. Through GreenlistTM, SCJ chemists and product formulators around the globe have instant access to environmental ratings of potential product ingredients.

Starting in 2001, SCJ developed GreenlistTM according to the rigorous standards of scientific best practices. GreenlistTM uses four to seven specific criteria to rate ingredients within 17 functional categories. SCJ enlisted the help of suppliers, university scientists, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure that the rating criteria were meaningful, objective, and valid. These criteria include vapor pressure, octanol/water partition coefficient, biodegradability, aquatic toxicity, human toxicity, European Union Classification, source/supply, and others, as appropriate. The GreenlistTM process assigns an environmental classification (EC) score to each ingredient by averaging its scores for the criteria in its category. EC scores range from Best (3) to Restricted Use Material (0). SCJ lowers the EC score for chemicals with other significant concerns including PBT (persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity), endocrine disruption, carcinogenicity, and reproductive toxicity. Today, GreenlistTM provides ratings for more than 90 percent of the raw materials SCJ uses, including solvents, surfactants, inorganic acids and bases, chelants, propellants, preservatives, insecticides, fragrances, waxes, resins, nonwoven fabrics, and packaging. Company scientists have also developed criteria for dyes, colorants, and thickeners and are working on additional categories as well.

During fiscal 2000–2001, the baseline year, SCJ's EC average was 1.12. Their goal was to reach an average EC of 1.40 during fiscal 2007–2008. The company reached this goal three years early, with an average EC of 1.41 covering almost 1.4 billion pounds of raw materials.

In recent years, SCJ has used GreenlistTM to reformulate multiple products to make them safer and more environmentally responsible. In one example, SCJ used the GreenlistTM process to replace polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) with polyethylene in Saran Wrap®. In another example, SCJ applied GreenlistTM to remove a particular volatile organic compound (VOC) from Windex®. They developed a novel new formula containing amphoteric and anionic surfactants, a solvent system with fewer than 4 percent VOCs, and a polymer for superior wetting. Their formula cleans 30 percent better and eliminates over 1.8 million pounds of VOCs per year.


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