Packaging plays a critical role in maintaining the quality, safety and integrity of our products throughout our value chain. In addition to complying with packaging regulations in all the countries where our products are sold, we are proactive about increasing recycled content of packaging and improving recyclability of our packaging. In 2019, we progressed several initiatives as follows:
Reducing the impact of plastic packaging: Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is a signatory, since 2018, to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In 2019, we progressed several initiatives, including the publication of multi-year targets for implementing our commitment. A few examples include the following:
- Conducted an impact assessment of our Consumer Health packaging portfolio and set a 2025 15% recycled content target across all plastic packaging by weight. The target varies across regions depending on product mix and volumes.
- Developed plans to launch additional refill packs for LE PETIT MARSEILLAIS liquid soaps.
- Set plans to replace non-recyclable film with polyethylene for our NEUTROGENA cosmetic wipes by 2021.
- Rolled out an enhanced internal Design for Recyclability Policy to relevant product development teams.
Concluded the partnership in Vietnam focused on ocean plastics through the Consumer Goods Forum and Trash Free Seas Alliance.
First contact lens recycling program in the UK: In 2019, Johnson & Johnson Vision launched the ACUVUE Contact Lens Recycle Program in the UK, enabling consumers to recycle their contact lenses and blister and foil packaging after use. The UK’s first free, nationwide recycling program, with 1,200 collection points across the country, was created in partnership with global recycling organization TerraCycle following our research, which showed that 70% of the UK’s 3.7 million contact lens wearers weren’t sure they could recycle their contact lenses, and that approximately 20% of them admitted to flushing their lenses away. After collection, the contact lenses and packaging components are separated, shredded and washed, and then recycled into new products such as outdoor furniture. Millions of pairs of lenses were collected for recycling in the first year of the program.
Recycling of single-use medical devices in New Zealand: We collaborated with a hospital customer to segregate and recycle single-use ETHICON instruments used in surgical settings. Following a pilot program from 2018 with the Auckland District Health Board, we created a process for collection, safe decontamination and breakdown of single-use ETHICON devices to channel this waste to appropriate recycling streams, avoiding landfill. In the pilot program, more than 90% of product by weight was successfully routed for recycling. This program is now being introduced in hospitals across New Zealand.
Partnerships for advancing recycling: In 2019, we engaged more broadly with recycling initiatives, for example:
- We joined the Materials Recovery for the Future Project, a collaboration of leading members of the packaging value chain in North America committed to developing research solutions for recycling flexible packaging curbside, which is not typically accepted in recycling programs.
- We continued to fund efforts to advance the recycling of plastic squeeze tubes in North America in partnership with More Recycling (MORE). Based on MORE’s extensive research and testing, in 2019, the Association of Plastic Recyclers formed a working group to develop preferred plastic specifications for tube design as an important practical step toward creating recyclable tubes for everyday use in millions of homes.
- We were one of the initial funders of The Recycling Partnership’s new Pathway to Circularity initiative. The Pathway to Circularity is a roadmap that starts with a stage gate process to determine the steps needed for a package to reach recyclability. This initiative will outline, address and seek to successfully navigate current and future packaging recycling system challenges that limit the recycling of packaging materials today to make progress toward circularity. The initial funding has not only created this stage- gate process, but also helped launch an industry council to gain alignment and consensus needed to realize measurable change throughout the packaging industry.
- We continued our involvement as a founding partner of the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, a U.S. social impact fund that invests in scaling recycling infrastructure and sustainable manufacturing technologies to advance a circular economy.
- We maintained CARE TO RECYCLE, our initiative to encourage consumers to recycle their personal care products. We share tips and practical information for better recycling on our website and social media vehicles.
- We continued our involvement as a member of The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council, an initiative helping the healthcare industry support recyclability of plastics in clinical settings.