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Johnson’s Baby Overhauls Pumps in Packaging to Aid Recycling

By removing this small part of the packaging of Johnson's® Baby products, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health predicts it will keep 24M difficult-to-recycle pumps out of landfills each year – and that’s just the beginning. The company aims to strike a balance between consumers’ and the planet’s needs.

To meet its goal of using 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging for all of its brands by 2025, as set out in its Healthy Lives Mission, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is scrutinizing every packaging component to assess its recyclability. Sometimes, a small item such as a pump can be the one element that stops a bottle from being fully recyclable.

Pumps have a complex design with many small parts, often including metal springs. To be recycled, these pieces need to be reliably sorted out and separated at a large scale. Though complex recycling sites are able to separate main types of plastic by colour and type, the process is not perfect. Metal components further complicate the problem, and thus are detrimental to the plastic recycling stream.

Weighing up the convenience of pumps versus their recyclability, the company decided to remove the pumps first on its smaller bottles, which can still be easily used with flip-top or disk-top caps. In North America and EMEA, pumps with metal springs have already been removed from the production of Johnson’s® Baby liquid washes, shampoos and bubble bath products in sizes 500ml and below, with the change expected by early this year.

Karen Marchetti, Johnson’s Global Marketing Director, explained the evolution of the use of pumps.

“Parents really appreciate the convenience of pumps. The easy, one-hand dispensing comes in handy when bathing and handling small babies,” she said. “For this reason, when we last upgraded our packaging in 2018, we incorporated pumps into many of our washes and lotions. But since then, as we’ve continued to evolve our packaging to reduce waste and optimize recyclability, we’ve reconsidered our use of pumps. On smaller sizes that are easier for parents to hold and use with one hand, we have switched to flip-top or disk-top caps. And we’re continuing to innovate in this area, with the goal of introducing recyclable pumps across our full line within a few years.”

This initial transition will keep 24 million pumps out of landfills each year. Ultimately, if the company can remove pumps from more products — or replace them with a recyclable option — the impact will be much bigger. 

Looking to the future, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is working closely with its suppliers to identify recyclable pump technologies that can be customized for its products. The company hopes to replace the remaining pumps across the Johnson’s Baby line with a fully recyclable option by 2024.

Replacing non-recyclable pumps is just one of the many things the company is doing to reach its 2025 packaging goals — it also plans to expand globally its refill packaging, which is currently offered in Asia and Latin America, to enable bottle reuse and reduce plastic waste.

The company is also seeking ways to reduce the use of plastic in shipping. The Johnson’s engineering team in Asia identified an opportunity to reduce use of shrink wrap in their shipping process: By eliminating one layer of plastic wrap, the team saved 186 kg of plastic per year.

What’s inside the packaging is also made with the environment in mind. All Johnson’s Baby liquid cleansers and lotions are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates and dyes. They are also formulated to be non-toxic, biodegradable, and not harmful to aquatic life and ecosystems. The brand is continuously upgrading ingredient selection and sourcing to improve the environmental impact of each and every product, while delivering on evolving consumer preferences.

Looking for small changes at every stage — from product formulation to packaging and transportation — the company is improving the overall sustainability of Johnson’s Baby products, one step at a time.

How Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is accelerating action to protect our environment and address important human health challenges.


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