Johnson & Johnson Earthwards Process | Johnson & Johnson

“Really like the program and may suggest it to my own company. It’s good that the company is leading by example and using a third party to create a product stewardship label and to set goals for having a certain number of products meet the label’s requirements. Great program.”
--Environmental Leader Product & Project Awards judge

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Product stewardship allows Johnson & Johnson to offer customers and consumers more sustainable products, and to reduce its environmental footprint by making production processes more efficient, the company says. Building on its commitment to the environment, Johnson & Johnson introduced the Earthwards process, an internal initiative that uses lifecycle data to identify the environmental and social impacts of a product, and establish opportunities to reduce the most material of them. To be considered for Earthwards recognition, a product must achieve three significant improvements across seven impact areas: materials, packaging, energy, water, waste, positive social impact and product innovation. As part of Healthy Future 2015, Johnson & Johnson’s five-year roadmap for achieving its sustainability goals, the company is striving to have 60 Earthwards recognized products by 2015. Through December, 2013, 55 products have achieved Earthwards recognition.

In response to growing demand for more sustainable products, Johnson & Johnson launched the Earthwards process in 2009. The company worked with Five Winds International (now a part of PE International), a product stewardship and sustainability consultancy, to develop the process. An Earthwards Board was created and 12 subject matter experts from within the company were recruited to serve, along with external experts from organizations such as Practice Greenhealth, World Wildlife Fund and the S.C. Johnson School of Management at Cornell University. The following year, Johnson & Johnson engaged a group of product sustainability experts from government, academia, business and the NGO community to review the Earthwards process and suggest improvements. Finally, the Earthwards process also undergoes an annual third party assurance check conducted by UL Environment. Today, the Earthwards four-step process is helping pro duct development teams at Johnson & Johnson identify and address individual product’s biggest environmental impacts.

The use of lifecycle thinking helps uncover ideas and develop differentiated products that meet the needs of customers and consumers. Offering more sustainable products allows Johnson & Johnson to differentiate around greener attributes that are important for many customers. Overall, the Earthwards process drives sustainable product development throughout Johnson & Johnson, which results in better products with more favorable environmental footprints, the company says.