As packaging and the waste associated with it continue to cause debate worldwide, Packaging Today was given the chance to visit the EMEA HQ for SC Johnson’s manufacturing business to see how a lean and green manufacturing process is not only possible, but can be used to reduce costs without a loss to customers of innovative products.
One immediate way in which companies can reduce their impact on the environment is to reduce, or even remove waste associated with manufacturing that would otherwise end up in a landfill site. SC Johnson defines zero landfill as eliminating all materials going to landfill through reuse and recycling and, ultimately, without the use of incineration.
Seven SC Johnson sites are currently considered zero landfill: two in China and one each in Pakistan, The Netherlands, the United States, Poland and Canada. In 2011, the company established a new five-year waste and emissions reduction goal. It is working toward a 2016 objective of reducing global manufacturing combined air emissions, water effluents and solid waste by 70%. As of this year it is past 62% and on track.
SC Johnson is working to increase post-consumer recycled content across its product packaging, decrease packaging overall, and offset virgin material use through innovative partnerships and packaging advances.
New concentrated refills
One example of a product advance that greatly reduces packaging is concentrated refills. American consumers buy 320 million cleaning products in trigger bottles each year, and millions of them end up in landfills. By comparison, concentrated refills use less packaging, decrease shipping impacts and reduce waste. In fact, if just 20% of those 320 million bottles were refilled rather than
discarded, it could save millions of pounds of plastics.
The company launched an online test of Windex Mini concentrated refill pouch. It hopes to create dialogue about the green choice concentrates can offer, and to start a "concentrates revolution". Over the course of the test, it heard from more than 1,000 consumers who shared comments and recommendations about the product and about concentrates in
With the successful pilot, the company launched a new concentrates lineup that comes in small, easy-to-pour bottles made of the same recyclable plastics as a milk jug. Trigger bottles for almost all these brands – Windex, fantastik, Pledge and Shout- are already produced with 50% post-consumer-recycled content. TheScrubbing Bubbles trigger bottle is made with 30%.
Choosing to refill has an even greater positive impact:
– Requires 79% less plastics than the standard bottles
– Avoids transporting 19 to 23 fl oz of water, depending on the formula
– The refill bottle can be recycled in most community recycling programmes
In 2013, SC Johnson tested another way to try concentrates: the innovative Smart Twist cleaning system, which brought added convenience by automatically adding the right amount of water and keeping three cleaners in onehandy sprayer. Just twist, spray and wipe – the perfect space-saving solution for busy households. The system was refillable and its cartridges were made of the same recyclable plastics as a milk jug. The Smart Twist cleaning system test sold out by early 2014.
Choosing to use the Smart Twist and its cartridges helped minimise waste going to landfill. The cartridges:
– Required 63% less plastics than a new standard spray bottle
– Avoided transporting 18.7 to 22.7 fl oz of water, depending on the formula – Could be recycled in most community recycling programmes.
Here are a few examples of other product advances that have helped minimise waste. Windex Cleaners – the bottles have long been produced using 50% postconsumer-recycled material. By 2011, this saved nearly two million pounds of virgin material from going into the waste stream.
Glade Candles – a paperboard sleeve that is 100% recycled with a minimum 35% post-consumer-recycled material. The new
packaging saves more than 335,000 pounds of plastics. In addition, lightweighting of the candle jar is saving 2.6 million pounds
of glass annually.
Fantastik Cleaners – the bottles have at least 30% post-consumer-recycled materials, with the transparent PET bottles including 50%. This saved 543,000 pounds of virgin plastics from going into the waste stream. Glade Sense & Spray – the product’s third-generation packaging had eliminated plastics and instead uses 100% recycled chipboard with a minimum 35% post-consumer-recycled material.