Al Ian­nuzzi, Sr. Di­rec­tor, En­vi­ron­ment, Health, Safety & Sus­tain­abil­ity John­son & John­son, (New Jersey, USA)

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John­son & John­son launched Earth­wards® in 2009. De­scribe its mis­sion, and how it came to be.

Our prod­ucts span three sec­tors: con­sumer goods, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and med­i­cal de­vices. Over time, we re­al­ized that our ap­proach to sus­tain­abil­ity wasn’t ap­pro­pri­ate for some of our busi­ness units. The tools we were of­fer­ing and the ques­tions we were ask­ing were more ap­pro­pri­ate for some than oth­ers. So, we de­cided to sim­plify the process by which our peo­ple can make our prod­ucts greener. ‘Earth­wards’ has two ob­jec­tives: to de­velop more sus­tain­able prod­ucts and to ef­fec­tively com­mu­ni­cate the green as­pects of our prod­ucts to our cus­tomers.

To date, 58 prod­ucts have earned the Earth­wards des­ig­na­tion. Tell us about some of them.

One prod­uct of note is the Har­monic scalpel, which came out of our Ethicon di­vi­sion. We man­aged to cre­ate a bet­ter-func­tion­ing de­vice that uses less ma­te­ri­als and pack­ag­ing. So not only is it bet­ter for our cus­tomers and the en­vi­ron­ment, it’s also bet­ter from a cost per­spec­tive. Another is our pop­u­lar Aveeno® skin care line, which now uses less to­tal in­gre­di­ents and a greater num­ber of nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents. This in­cludes a sur­fac­tant we de­vel­oped that is the first ever to be bio-based; it’s made from potato starch. To my knowl­edge, all other sur­fac­tants on the mar­ket are syn­thetic.

How do you go about mea­sur­ing a prod­uct’s en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact?

Earth­wards is a four-step process. The first step in­volves do­ing a re­view to make sure that the prod­uct meets ex­ter­nal reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments and our own in­ter­nal re­quire­ments. Our in­ter­nal re­quire­ments are quite strict: in some cases, we re­strict the use of a cer­tain ma­te­rial—even if it is still ac­cept­able by reg­u­la­tory stan­dards—be­cause we know that our stake­hold­ers would pre­fer not to have it in their prod­ucts.

The sec­ond step is what we call a ‘life­cy­cle re­view’. We use life­cy­cle screen­ing to de­ter­mine where the en­vi­ron­men­tal ‘hot spots’ are for each prod­uct, and from there, we fo­cus on im­prove­ments within each hot spot. We have iden­ti­fied seven cat­e­gories in which we can re­duce our im­pact: ma­te­ri­als, pack­ag­ing, waste, wa­ter, energy, in­no­va­tion and so­cial is­sues.

In the third step, the team looks at how it could make a to­tal of three sus­tain­abil­ity im­prove­ments based on the hot-spot is­sues iden­ti­fied in step two. For in­stance, if the ma­te­ri­als re­quired to pro­duce some­thing lie within one of the iden­ti­fied hot spots, they can use less of one of those ma­te­ri­als, and re­place it with a more en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly ma­te­rial. The same thing goes for pack­ag­ing. Our cus­tomers want less pack­ag­ing, and they want more of it to be sus­tain­able, so we might start to use FSCcer­ti­fied paper­board, for ex­am­ple. These are just a few ex­am­ples of the kind of met­rics we use to make a prod­uct greener.

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