How SC Johnson Deals With the Plastic Waste Crisis


Plastic ocean waste is a big problem. That is why SC Johnson leverages the power of its large company to deal with the plastic waste crisis. The company is a powerhouse, with highly recognizable brands that include Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex, Glade, Raid, and Pledge.

SC Johnson’s commitments to better deal with plastic waste include making 100 percent of its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025. In April 2019, the company launched a plastic packaging bottle made from 100 percent recycled ocean plastic for Windex. Major North American stores, including Target and Walmart, carry the product called Windex Vinegar Ocean Plastic.

“Plastic waste is becoming a bigger and bigger environmental problem,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, in a statement.

Partnering with Plastic Bank

Last fall, the company announced a partnership with Plastic Bank, an organization working to reduce plastic ocean waste. Fifty-five percent of the plastic waste leaking into the world’s oceans comes from five Asian countries (China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand), according to a 2015 report. With operations in Indonesia, the company will open eight recycling centers in the country over the next year with Plastic Bank. Local waste collectors in Indonesia will bring plastic collected to a recycling center. They will be given digital tokens to buy goods and services.

Many people use Ziploc bags because they are a convenient way to store food and other items. But the plastic bags wind up in a garbage can and travel to a landfill. SC Johnson launched an effort last October to make Ziploc bags recyclable at the curb. Last year, the company introduced the first trash bag with 100 percent post-consumer recycled film. The company will also expand production of compostable Ziploc bags.

Plastic waste is a huge problem

The use of plastics increased 20-fold in the last five years. Experts expect it will double in the next 20 years. Most plastic packaging is not recycled. A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that 95 percent of the material value of plastic packaging ($80 to 120 billion a year) is lost to the economy. There is also an environmental cost. Plastic packaging that is not recycled winds up in landfills where it gives off methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas with a warming potential 23 times that of carbon dioxide.

At least eight million tons of plastics end up in the ocean annually. That is equivalent to dumping the contents of a garbage truck into the ocean every minute. Experts predict the number of plastics in the ocean will double by 2030 and quadruple by 2050. There is a mass of plastic ocean waste in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas called the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.

As companies like SC Johnson reduce the amount of plastic waste in landfills and oceans, other companies will follow their lead.

Photo: Michael Nguyen