SCJ Boosts Fragrance Disclosure Policy
SC Johnson has become the first major consumer packaged goods company to globally disclose fragrance ingredients down to .01% of the product formula across its brand portfolio, the company announced this month. The action goes beyond what currently is legally required.
The maker of household cleaners began its informational crusade almost 10 years ago. Today, the number of products whose fragrance ingredients are disclosed to the .01% is in the hundreds.
"SC Johnson firmly believes consumers deserve to know what's in the products they use,” said Kelly Semrau, senior vice president of global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability. "Sharing more about product ingredients is good for families and important for the industry. We are pleased to see that our industry peers are following our lead and taking steps toward greater transparency."
The company began its transparency journey by launching the "What's Inside SC Johnson" website in 2009. In 2012, it added a comprehensive list of fragrance ingredients used in its products. The SC Johnson Fragrance Palette excludes about 2,400 ingredients that do not meet company standards — even though they meet industry standards and are legal in commerce.
In 2015, SCJ added a site feature that lists fragrances in individual products across categories. The company expanded its disclosure program to Europe in 2016 and Asia in 2017. The initiative will be launched in Latin America later this year.
In 2017, SC Johnson began to disclose, on a product-specific basis, the presence of 368 skin allergens that may be in its product formulations. This move also goes beyond regulations in the European Union and the U.S., where there are no rules requiring allergen transparency.
Earlier this year, SCJ also outlined the scientific criteria behind its Greenlist program, which guides how the company chooses ingredients to protect human health and the environment.
A handful of other companies, including Clorox and Reckitt Benckiser, have begun to voluntarily disclose ingredients as well. And two states, New York and California, have passed laws requiring manufacturers to divulge ingredients in cleaning products.
These moves are groundbreaking, since fragrance ingredients have long been considered “trade secrets.” The Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to list ingredients in health & beauty products. But they are allowed to just state “fragrance” as an ingredient, rather than identify specific chemicals. Makers of household cleaners are not required to list any ingredients.
This is problematic since 35% of the U.S. population has reported health problems (such as headaches and respiratory difficulties) when exposed to scented products, according to a study by Anne Steinemann of the University of Melbourne. In addition, 15% have lost work time or a job due to fragrance exposure in the workplace. And 20% will leave a business right after entering if they smell air fresheners or some fragranced product. Over 50% of the population prefers workplaces, health care facilities, hotels and airplanes to be fragrance-free.