‘Accelerating action’: Johnson & Johnson outlines 2030 goals on plastic packaging, ingredients transparency and preventive health

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

By 2030, Johnson & Johnson's Aveeno, Johnson’s, Listerine, Neutrogena and OGX brands will strive to use 100% recycled plastic in their bottles (Image: Johnson & Johnson)
By 2030, Johnson & Johnson's Aveeno, Johnson’s, Listerine, Neutrogena and OGX brands will strive to use 100% recycled plastic in their bottles (Image: Johnson & Johnson)

Related tags: Johnson & johnson, Sustainability, sustainable beauty, Sustainable packaging, Environment, transparency, Ingredients, Health

Personal care major Johnson & Johnson has outlined a range of measures in its ‘healthy lives mission’ program that aim to boost sustainability and improve the health of consumers over the next ten years.

The company has said it will invest €674m ($800m) into the initiative that aimed to make its consumer health products – including its Johnson’s, Listerine and Aveeno brands – more sustainable by 2030.

Healthy Lives Mission across personal care brands worldwide

“As part of the initiative, all Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health brands will aim to give full transparency on all of the ingredients used in their products so consumers can make the most informed choices. The brands will use 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging and certified/post-consumer recycled paper- and pulp-based packaging by 2025. And the Aveeno, Johnson’s, Listerine, Neutrogena and OGX brands will strive to use 100% recycled plastic in their bottles by 2030,”​ the company said.

The 10-year initiative would also focus on addressing “complex preventable health issues”​, Johnson & Johnson said, such as eradicating smoking and preventable skin cancers through in-house and external collaborations.

“We’re accelerating action to bring forward innovations that can help protect the health of our consumers, their communities and the planet,”​ said Katie Decker, global president for essential health and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health.

“…Our company is focused on health and healthy people – everything we work on is designed to make people’s lives healthier. How can we continue to do that if we’re not serious about the health of the planet, too?”

Packaging in the spotlight – flip-top caps, clear plastic caps and plant-based wipes

As part of the company’s push towards more sustainable products, it said it was removing all pumps from Johnson’s baby care products across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the United States on formats under 500ml. The pumps were being replaced by a flip-top cap.

“We hear from parents that pumps are helpful for one-handed use when holding a baby, but pumps are definitely a tension point when it comes to sustainability, due to a metal component inside that prevents them from being recycled,”​ said Karen Marchetti, director of global baby franchise at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health.

Removing the pumps on its products, Marchetti said, would result in around 24 million fewer going into landfill each year.

Across its Listerine line in Europe, Johnson & Johnson would also start phasing out its black plastic caps and replacing them with clear resin ones to improve recycling quality.

In North America, the company would this year start using post-consumer recycled plastic across its Aveeno bottles – 80% of which were already recyclable – and update all makeup remover wipes to plant-based alternatives, a move it had already initiated on its Neutrogena Skin Balancing wipes.

Marcee Martinez, manager for skin care franchise and product development at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, said the company had worked with environmental experts in Europe to “identify the right standards by which our fabrics would be evaluated” ​for these wipes, ​settling on its plant-based cloth after screening more than 50 options over three years.

A sustainable beauty ‘race to the top’?

Back in June, international beauty major L’Oréal also released details on a ten-year sustainability plan it coined ‘for the future’.​ Amongst a raft of pledges, the company said it would ensure all its plastic packaging was recycled or bio-based by 2030, that its sites and centres would be carbon neutral, and 95% of ingredients would be either bio-based, derived from abundant materials or circular.

In the same month, personal care major Unilever released its 2030 ‘sustainable living’ plan​ in which it pledged to combat climate change and hit zero net emissions across all products by 2039. The company had pooled €1bn into a dedicated fund to accelerate these efforts.

Sustainable design expert Chris Sherwin, director of reboot innovation, suggested these ten-year plans might signal real big brand movement in sustainability.

“I ask: is this the first signals of a race to the top on sustainability in the beauty, cosmetics and personal care category?” ​It might just be, Sherwin suggested, noting beauty was following in the footsteps of the wider fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) retail world.

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