Consumer health-care giant Johnson & Johnson is embracing new ideas in its packaging, including an emphasis on post-consumer recycled content for the plastic used in some of its iconic brands.
The firm is launching a new bottle for its Johnson's baby shampoo that uses post-consumer PET, said chief design officer Chris Hacker during an Oct. 19 presentation at the Connecting'07 World Design Congress in San Francisco.
And baby shampoo bottle is not J&J's only product going green. There is recycled content in packaging for its Aveeno and Neutrogena skin-care brands as well, and a corporate environmental initiative that is tackling issues from recycling office paper to reducing carbon dioxide and overall waste.
Consumers likely will never see the change, Hacker said. Other than adding a tint to its baby shampoo bottle to hide the post-consumer material, J&J is not planning any major market announcements.
``You're not going to see us bragging about it on the bottle,'' he said. ``We're doing it because it's the right thing to do.''
Using post-consumer recycled content is not New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J's first move to embrace environmental efforts.
In 2005, the company reported that it had reduced plastics use by replacing double-wall bottles for its facial cleanser brands with single-wall versions. It redesigned Johnson's baby product packaging so it could cut back on the plastic but maintain the same volume of liquid.
J&J also has focused on reducing PVC use in packaging, with a goal of eliminating PVC by year's end in consumer primary, secondary and tertiary packaging; and in secondary and tertiary packaging in medical devices and pharmaceutical brands.
J&J reported in September that the medical devices group hit its PVC goals at the end of 2006, while the pharmaceutical division has eliminated 14 percent of its PVC, and consumer brands has hit 75 percent of its goal.
Hacker is part of J&J's new drive to embrace design. Like competitor Procter & Gamble Co. of Cincinnati, J&J wants to reinvigorate existing brands while keying in to design cues to create new products.
And with Hacker, the firm also can embrace sustainable materials. At Aveda Corp., he oversaw increased use of post-consumer recycled plastics for high density polyethylene containers and helped push Aveda's use of post-consumer plastics from 15 percent to 80 percent by steadily boosting recycled content in each product cycle.
``If you do it a little step at a time, it's not as hard,'' Hacker said. ``This is not easy. It's not rocket science, but it's not an easy thing to do.''
Hacker said Coca-Cola Co. is making it easier for companies like J&J to use more post-consumer PET. Atlanta-based Coke has won approval for food-grade post-consumer PET use in its bottles, making it possible for other companies in the food and drug industry to use the material.
``That is going to change the paradigm for what others can do,'' Hacker said.
And J&J not just scrutinizing its plastics use.
The firm's goals through 2010 aim to improve fuel efficiency in its vehicle fleets, cut water usage by 10 percent compared with 2005, and invest in habitat restoration projects.
The company has switched its source for paper to companies using managed and sustainable forests, and it is reducing and simplifying its material use.
``Do we need this outer wrap? Are we minimizing the amount of waste? Can this package be smaller or use fewer materials?'' Hacker said.
Meanwhile the new design emphasis also is opening new arenas for plastics use in J&J products.
The firm is launching a ``tough strips'' package of its Band-Aid brand of adhesive bandages that comes in a plastic container. That package will replicate the metal containers J&J once used for its bandages - and like those tins it might find a second life as a storage container for small items such as nails and screws.