The firm said it will also pay an undisclosed settlement. The proposed class-action suits, brought in federal court in California and Wisconsin, claimed it was unclear that Greenlist was an internally developed process rather than that of a third party. The plaintiffs also said the logo implied the use of environmentally friendly ingredients, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
Windex was the first SC Johnson product to carry the Greenlist label when the program launched in 2008. The company says it will continue to use the Greenlist process in product development.
“We decided to settle for two reasons. First, while we believed we had a strong legal case, in retrospect we could have been more transparent about what the logo signified,” said SC Johnson chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson. “Second, and very importantly, Greenlist is such a fundamentally sound and excellent process we use to green our products, that we didn’t want consumers to be confused about it due to a logo on one product.”
SC Johnson said its use of the Greenlist logo was intended to signify that the Windex products had achieved the highest ratings in the company’s internal Greenlist process.
“SC Johnson continues to believe that the Greenlist label met all applicable standards and regulations, and the company’s intention was in no way to mislead consumers,” the firm said in a statement. “Additionally, while the company disagreed with the plaintiffs’ claim about the impression created by the logo, the Windex products did in fact meet the company’s highest internal standards and the product ingredients are not harmful to the environment.”
The company says the Greenlist process has helped it make numerous advances since 2001, including reformulations that cut nearly 48 million pounds of volatile organic compounds in five years, eliminating the use of PVC and chlorine-bleached paperboard in packaging worldwide, and requiring suppliers to stop using phthalates in their fragrances.
SC Johnson says that Greenlist also laid the groundwork for its ingredient communication program, launched in 2009.
“Thanks to the Greenlist process, SC Johnson has nothing to hide because the company continues to improve the ingredients it uses in all its products,” the company said.
“While companies always try to ensure labels are clear and understandable, different interpretations can arise,” noted Kelly M. Semrau, senior vice president of global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability at SC Johnson. “We want to simply learn from the experience and move on.”
Last week the company launched a concentrated Windex refill pouch, in a test designed to challenge American consumers’ resistance to such products.