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The SC Johnson Greenlist™ Program

Better choices from better information.

We dedicated a special section of our 2017 Sustainability Report to the SC Johnson Greenlist™ program. Download an excerpt here.

Since 2001, the SC Johnson Greenlist™ ingredient selection program has guided the company’s product development. The Greenlist™ program helps the company continually improve its products by choosing ingredients to better protect human health and the environment.

The Greenlist™ program goes well beyond what’s legally required. And, it’s a significant investment to spend time and resources on every single ingredient decision. But it’s our commitment to the families who use our products: We will always make the most informed choices we can, and using this information, we determine how to make our products effective and safe.

About Our Greenlist Program

Every ingredient in every SC Johnson product goes through the rigorous Greenlist™ program. Its centerpiece is a science-based, four-step evaluation that looks at both hazard and risk. It’s grounded in best-in-class data collection, and driven by our commitment to continually improve our products.

The four-step evaluation at the heart of the Greenlist™ program looks at these criteria:

  1. Chronic human health hazards, such as the potential to cause cancer or reproductive diseases
  2. Long-term environmental hazards, meaning the potential to persist, accumulate and be toxic in the environment
  3. Acute risks to human and environmental health, such as mammalian or aquatic toxicity
  4. Other potential effects, for example whether an ingredient could cause an allergic reaction on the skin

We take great care to choose ingredients that pass each of the steps in our four-step evaluation process. There are a small number of cases where the best available ingredient, like the active ingredient in an insecticide, might fail one of these steps. If so, it goes through a risk assessment to determine the level that is safe for humans and the environment, and we then apply an added degree of caution.


Any potential ingredient on Earth — including oxygen and water — can be toxic at a high enough amount. So, every ingredient in an SC Johnson product must be assessed to determine how much is and is not safe. There are industry standards for safety, of course. But at SC Johnson, we go further.

We start with a hazard assessment using the information from our ongoing data collection. When there’s a potential hazard, we evaluate the ingredient to determine at what concentration it could be used, if at all, without any known adverse effects to human health or the environment. That’s the safe level.

Then, we conduct an additional assessment focused on exposure. SC Johnson scientists look at how a product is intended to be used and how it might be used by consumers. We consider the broadest likely use, and go beyond that, in selecting what ingredients we will use and at what level.

As an example, for a cleaning product most likely to be used once a week, we take it many steps further. We review what the level of exposure to an ingredient may be, assuming it is used not just once, but many more times in one day We also consider the variety of ways in which consumers may use or come into contact with a product, such as a glass cleaning product used on a kitchen counter to prepare food. We consider all of those usage scenarios, and will multiply them out even further to create an even greater, more conservative safety factor.

In each scenario, our goal is to determine the conservative “safer than safe” level. Then, that becomes the allowable concentration for SC Johnson scientists to continue product development.


The Greenlist™ program is grounded by a rigorous, ongoing effort to collect best-in-class data about ingredients and their potential impact on human health and the environment. This includes reviewing supplier information and filling any gaps with publicly available, scientifically rigorous data.

Every ingredient is assessed against each of the criteria in our four-step evaluation. Hazard assessment is conducted by an external panel of experts that provides an unbiased scientific evaluation of each ingredient.

All of this is considered as we develop new products, or improve existing ones. Plus, we continually make updates as new science becomes available.

Here are examples of publicly available data sources we use:

ECHA – European Chemicals Agency information on chemicals

TOXNET – U.S. National Institutes of Health’s database on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health and toxic releases

eChem Portal – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development chemical substance property data

CA Prop 65 – California Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm

INCHEM – International Programme on Chemical Safety site for chemical safety information from intergovernmental organizations

ToxCast/EDSP 21 – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Endocrine Disruption Screening Program Following a decade of voluntarily, and often unilaterally, removing from our products chemicals that didn’t meet our standards, the SC Johnson Greenlist™ program formally launched in 2001.
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