SC Johnson and Ellen MacArthur Foundation partner to spur circular economy progress

SC Johnson chairman Fisk Johnson recently visited Indonesia to further explore the global plastic pollution problem

Announced this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the partnership will see the two organisations work together to bring innovative, cradle-to-cradle products and services to market.

Specifically, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation will offer its best practice advice to SC Johnson and connect the company to its nine other Global Partner corporates, including Nike, Unilever, Google and H&M, while SC Johnson will invest in research, development and trials of new products and materials.

The overarching aim of the Foundation’s Global Partner scheme is to drive a culture-wide shift to a truly circular economy, in which no resources are sent to landfill or left to pollute nature.

As the owner of brands such as Mr Muscle, Glade and Windex, SC Johnson’s specific focus will be on single-use plastic packaging – a topic it has been discussing with industry experts for “several years”, according to chairman and chief executive Fisk Johnson.

“Plastic pollution is an enormous problem, and it is going to take businesses, governments, consumers and civil society working together to solve it,” Johnson said.

“We’re all going to have to come together, and Ellen and the Foundation have done an excellent job creating an opportunity for partnership and progress.”

New Plastics Economy

The launch of the partnership follows on from SC Johnson’s commitment to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, which was launched last October.

By signing up to the scheme, the firm joined more than 250 other organisations in committing to increase the amount of reused or recycled plastics in new products and to innovate to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be reused, recycled, or composted by 2025. Signatories include financial investors, non-profits and national Governments as well as corporates.

Prior to joining the initiative, SC Johnson had already developed a range of concentrated cleaning products and refillable containers. It also recently completed work to develop compostable Ziploc bags and bin liners made from 100% recycled plastics.

However, many of these products are currently available as online exclusives or under local trials. In a bid to spur uptake, the company is lobbying for unified kerbside collections of flexible plastics across the US and has launched a communications scheme encouraging consumers to reuse certain packaging. It is additionally exploring ways to increase the proportion of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic in its packaging.

In an exclusive interview with edie, Johnson recently argued that consumer awareness of plastic pollution would soon spur shoppers to select products housed in recycled packaging – even if they were more expensive or less aesthetically pleasing than virgin plastic alternatives.

“In my mind, I would love this discolouration to be more of a badge of honour and a selling point,” he said.

“That doesn’t work so well today, but looking ahead, I think we will be able to do that as we incorporate more PCR content, because people will be thinking about the plastic waste issue in ways they haven’t before.”

Sarah George  

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie