SC Johnson Sustainability Report: GHGs Up 3%
SC Johnson’s greenhouse gas emissions rose three percent between 2011 and 2012, a 1.8 percentage point change versus its 2000 baseline – but the company says the addition of two US wind turbines is set to put it back on track.
In its 2013 sustainability report, SC Johnson admits it fell “a little short” last year as it pursues a 10 percent emission reduction for the 2011-2016 period. This goal is equivalent to a 48 percent reduction by 2016 from a 2000 baseline, building on a 42 percent reduction achieved in 2011.
But the company’s data presentation is a bit selective – it does not give us the 2000 baseline figure, or present results for the years 2001 to 2010.
The company says results for 2013 (which it hasn’t yet published) are “tracking in the right direction,” with emissions down significantly versus projections. This is due in part to the company bringing two 425-foot-tall wind turbines online at its largest manufacturing facility, in Waxdale, Wisc., last December. Combined with the cogeneration systems already in place, the facility is now able to generate, on average, 100 percent of its electrical energy onsite.
The 2013 emissions drop is also attributable to additional wind energy purchases. For example, in June, SC Johnson initiated a wind power purchase agreement for its factory in Toluca, Mexico, which will increase the plant’s use of renewable electricity by 65 percent, to about 86 percent of consumption, and will cut GHGs by 57 percent.
In 2013, SC Johnson increased by 50 percent the wind power it buys from a wind farm near its Bay City, Mich., plant, which produces Ziploc bags. This increases the wind power purchases’ avoided annual greenhouse gas emissions from 28,000 to 42,000 metric tons per year.
The company’s goal is to get 33 percent of total energy globally from renewable sources by 2016. Last year its percentage held steady at 30 percent, but it expects the proportion to rise for 2013.
SC Johnson has invested in 10 major renewable energy initiatives around the world over the last decade. The company says it is pursuing biofuels in Indonesia and solar energy in China, and is exploring a biomass initiative that may launch in the coming year.
SC Johnson, whose brands include Glade, Off!, Pledge, Raid, Shout, Windex and Ziploc, is in its 22nd year of publicly reporting progress on its sustainability objectives. This edition covers activity since July 2012 except where otherwise noted.
The company began reporting on total renewable energy use last year, after previously tracking just electricity usage from renewable sources. It says that reporting total renewable energy is in line with industry standards and also enables the firm to track initiatives such as its palm shell and rice husk energy recovery in Indonesia and cogeneration in the United States.
SC Johnson says its data center is a significant source of energy consumption, running hundreds of computer servers and thousands of applications that support its operations in the US and internationally. Over the past four years, the company has installed faster, more energy-efficient servers that have doubled the data center’s computing power while decreasing energy consumption nearly 23 percent.
Since 2005, total electrical use at SC Johnson’s global headquarters has decreased by 13 percent, despite an additional 70,000 square feet of building space.
SC Johnson has reduced its global manufacturing waste by 62 percent against a 2000 baseline – building on a 57 percent reduction to 2011 and 55 percent to 2010. In 2012 it recycled 8.6 million pounds of waste at its largest manufacturing facility.
Seven SC Johnson sites are currently considered zero landfill: two in China and one each in the US, Canada, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Poland. The US site, in Bay City, Mich., recycled more than 6.3 million pounds of waste in 2012/13 and has diverted 100 percent of its waste from landfills since November 2011.
Through 2012, 10 of SC Johnson’s manufacturing facilities around the globe achieved diversion rates of at least 90 percent, including factories in North America, Asia, Latin America and Africa.
In 2011 the company launched a test to determine if waste material from shave gel production could be recycled for use as compost, and this year the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued a composting permit for high volume industrial waste to SC Johnson’s partner, The Farm’s Composting. This means SC Johnson can convert the material to a suitable feedstock for yard waste composting, which the company will use for landscaping at its Wisconsin locations. It expects that the process will divert 385,000 pounds of waste a year from landfills.
Other steps SC Johnson is taking to minimize waste include placing hundreds of recycling bins on its campuses; equipping its cafeterias with plant-based cold beverage cups, corn-based disposable utensils and compostable to-go containers; and collecting electronics and batteries from employees for recycling.
Water, air emissions
In 2012, the Bay City plant started recirculating, through a closed-loop system, the water used to cool the high-speed manufacturing lines that produce Ziploc Slider Bags. Since its installation, the system has already “drastically reduced” water consumption, the company said, and is expected to cut water use by about 800,000 gallons a year.
The company does not report on its enterprise-wide water consumption and use, either for 2012 or in terms of trends.
SC Johnson ays it is continuing to progress toward its 2016 objective of reducing combined air emissions, water effluents and solid waste from global manufacturing by 70 percent. Through 2012, it reached a 62 percent reduction compared to its 2000 baseline, as a ratio to production (see chart).
In May, SC Johnson launched compostable Ziploc bags. The bags are designed for breakdown in commercial composting facilities, and certified under ASTM D6400 by the Biodegradable Products Institute. SC Johnson is selling the bags initially through its online Green Choices Marketplace, which allows the company to educate customers about proper use and disposal. The firm said it hopes the bags will help draw attention to commercial composting programs and encourage more communities to launch such initiatives. Currently, 183 US communities offer curbside compost collection, the report said.
Another product on the Green Choices Marketplace is the Smart Twist cleaning system, a refillable system for concentrated cleaners. The system is part of an evolution in the company’s green product development. In 2011 it launched the Windex Mini Concentrated Refill Pouch, which used 90 percent less plastic than buying a new spray bottle, but couldn’t be recycled. In 2012 it launched a lineup of mini concentrated cleaners, which use 79 percent less plastic than new spray bottles and can be recycled in most communities.
The Smart Twist system, launched this year, automatically mixes water in a refillable sprayer, requiring 63 percent less plastic than a new spray bottle, and can also be recycled in most communities, the company says. Consumers fill the sprayer’s water chamber with tap water and twist to switch between cleaners. SC Johnson now sells both Mini and Smart Twist refills for fantastik, Pledge, Scrubbing Bubbles, Shout and Windex.
In 2012/13 SC Johnson launched 10 SKUs that aim to help consumers reduce waste going to landfills. In the same year it launched initiatives targeted paper and cardboard reduction in product packaging. Removing the cardboard partition within Toilet Duck packages in Thailand eliminated 128,000 pounds of corrugate annually. An overall company project to systematically review and strategically minimize product materials led to further reductions in 2012/13, including a nearly 1.5 million pound reduction in corrugate use.
The company has 2016 goals to increase post-consumer-recycled content across product packaging to 30 percent, decrease packaging across product lines by 5 percent, and offset 30 percent of virgin material use through partnerships and packaging advances – but did not report progress against these goals.
SC Johnson has developed its Greenlist environmental classification process to help its scientists select ingredients for new products or reformulations. Each potential ingredient is rated as “Best,” “Better,” “Good” or “0-rated” (materials that can be used only in special circumstances).
The company’s 2012/13 Greenlist scores are down somewhat from previous years (it doesn’t say by how much), which the company attributes to a recalibration. In 2011/12, the score of high density polyethylene was changed in error, a mistake corrected in this report. SC Johnson’s 2012/13 results were also affected by newly acquired products that the company is working to bring up to its standards. It says it is also investing in ongoing internal training to drive continued Greenlist improvements.
Since 2001, the company says it has increased the percentage of “Better” or “Best” ingredients from 18 percent to 44 percent and has phased out numerous less-desirable ingredients such include polyvinyl chloride and the insecticides DDVP and propoxur.
SC Johnson sponsored the Regeneration Roadmap, an initiative by GlobeScan and SustainAbility that explored how the private sector can improve its overall sustainability strategy, increase its credibility and deliver results at greater speed and scale. The project produced the Regeneration Consumer Study, an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption, as well as Changing Tack: Extending Corporate Leadership on Sustainable Development.
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