Green Products: SC Johnson Breaks New Green Ground

A 126-year-old family-owned business with a whopping $9 billion in worldwide sales, SC Johnson is the first company of its kind to make a serious commitment to sustainability. Over the past decade it has proactively phased out CFCs, PVC, and phthalates from its cleaning products. In addition, this U.S.-based company has also cut down its own worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent since 2000.

But, its most recent eco-conscious push is truly unprecedented. In early February 2012, the company announced that it will voluntarily disclose ingredients (save for fragrance) on all product labels starting later this year. It is the first major cleaning company to make this move in a market where ingredients are currently not required to be labeled.

“We want all of our ingredients to be transparent, so consumers can make their own, informed choices on what to purchase,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson in their press release. “We also want to earn the trust and confidence every day of the people that buy our products because we work hard on our ingredient choices and strive to continually improve our products.”

SC Johnson’s announcement was made not long after the introduction of federal legislation that would require cleaning products to include a full listing of ingredients on the product label. The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act would also require fragrance ingredients to be listed.

From a business perspective, green continues to be the savviest direction for the cleaning products industry. Green household and personal care products have grown at an annual rate of eight percent since 2007, according to Bernstein Research. Today, this market rings in $2.6 billion per year. This growth is impressive, especially when compared with the 1.3 percent annual growth rate the overall market experienced in the same timeframe.

In addition to its admirable ingredient labeling, SC Johnson has also recently expanded its Mini line of concentrated cleaners, a move it hopes will inspire consumers to reduce, reuse, and recycle. The lineup, available at, includes fantastik®, Pledge®, Scrubbing Bubbles®, Shout® and Windex®.

According to the company, if just 20 percent of the 320 million cleaning products sold in trigger bottles were refilled each year, it would save 3.5 million pounds of virgin plastic and avoid transporting nearly 11.5 million gallons of water.