SC JOHNSON’S LEGACY OF ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP COMMEMORATED BY 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHLOROFLOUROCARBON BAN
Forty-two years ago, SC Johnson shocked the chemical industry and set new heights for environmental responsibility, as it was the first company to protect the Earth’s ozone layer by banning chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from all its aerosol products worldwide.
In 1975, the company’s pre-emptive and voluntary action came more than a decade before the 1987 Montreal Protocol treaty designed to reduce the production and use of chemicals that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
SC Johnson took this bold step motivated by early, yet not widely accepted, scientific research that suggested CFCs might harm the Earth’s ozone layer. These findings compelled SC Johnson to pull out of the aerosol business in several countries where alternatives to CFCs didn’t exist, and walk away from the company’s antiperspirant business in the U.K., where it was the market leader at the time.
The action also put then-CEO Sam Johnson in the crosshairs of other company leaders in the industry, who accused him of being reckless and irresponsible. One executive argued in a letter to him that he should wait for a longer-term study that would settle the science, before acting on “emotion.” Twenty years later, the research SC Johnson relied on to make its decision went on to win the 1995 Nobel Prize.
“When my father, Sam Johnson, decided to take CFCs out of our products he did because it was the right thing to do at the right time,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “This decision is one of many choices SC Johnson has made in its long history to do what’s right for people and the planet.”
SC Johnson’s decision in 1975 to remove CFCs from its aerosol products was announced with a full-page ad in The New York Times stating: “We are taking this action in the interest of customers and the public in general during a period of uncertainty and scientific inquiry. We plan to change the labels of our containers to carry the following statement: Use with confidence. Contains no freon or other fluorocarbons claimed to harm the ozone layer.”
In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected SC Johnson to appear in a film commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol due to the company’s role in setting the agenda. As part of the festivities recognizing the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol and treaty, the United Nations will be recognizing #ozoneheroes in social media.
For 131 years, the company has held steadfast to its environmental commitment and spirit of innovation. From its leadership in introducing water-based aerosols in 1955 to being one of the first consumer products manufacturers to join the EPA’s Climate Leaders program in 2002, SC Johnson continues to look for innovative ways to safeguard the environment.
In 2001, SC Johnson devised the Greenlist™ process, a patented raw material rating system, to transform the way the company measures, tracks and advances its products to further the company’s longstanding commitment to environmentally responsible products. Through the Greenlist™ process, SC Johnson continues to lead the way with responsible raw material choices.
In 2011, SC Johnson established a new five-year waste and emissions reduction goal, aiming to reduce combined air emissions, water effluents and solid waste from global manufacturing by 70 percent. The company reached the target three years ahead of schedule, and today has less than 0.5 kilograms of manufacturing waste per 100 kilograms of product shipped. It has also reduced global manufacturing waste by 76 percent. Dating back to 2000, SC Johnson has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the company’s top factories by 51 percent.