Skip to Main Content
4 minute read

Creating new rules for packaging design

As a global society, we know we need to reduce plastic waste to help create a better world. The question is: how? 

No single company can solve the plastic problem. That’s why SC Johnson seeks to partner with others to help people around the world recycle more. Together with other organizations and companies, we’re challenging the industry to rethink its approach to plastic. 

A coalition for change
The Consumer Goods Forum’s Coalition of Action on Plastic Waste

SC Johnson is a member of The Consumer Goods Forum’s Coalition of Action on Plastic Waste, a CEO-led group of 40 retailers and manufacturers working to accelerate progress toward a circular economy for plastic. 

The coalition’s vision is to lead bold actions on plastic waste and drive implementation of the New Plastics Economy commitment.
40 companies. 1 coalition. 4 key priorities. 

Together, we are:

1. Adopting plastic packaging design guidelines to reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging, and increase its value, quality and recyclability

2. Establishing a framework for EPR programs to support the improvement and development of waste management systems worldwide

3. Supporting recycling innovations

4. Piloting new programs in advanced and transitional markets to increase recycling rates

Reimagine. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. 
The coalition’s two ‘Golden Design Rules’

One reason why plastic packaging ends up in nature, harming the environment, is due to the complexity of the recycling process. For example, sorting plastic can be difficult, recycled plastic can be more expensive than virgin plastic and not all recycled plastics have a market demand. 

Plastic packaging needs a shakeup. That’s why we joined our fellow coalition members in creating and promoting two “Golden Design Rules,” using the power of design and creativity to drive change. 

The first Golden Design Rule is to increase the value of PET recycling. The coalition advises this can be achieved by using transparent and uncolored PET (preferred), or transparent blue or green PET bottles. The coalition also commits to making sure material choice, adhesive choice and the sizes of sleeves and labels are not problematic for recycling. This rule applies to all PET bottles in food and non-food applications.

The second Golden Design Rule is to remove problematic elements from plastic packaging — elements that decrease plastic recyclability. That includes carbon black pigment, PVC, Polystyrene and other difficult to recycle materials, or oxo-degradable plastics that contribute to microplastic pollution.

PET is polyethylene terephthalate, one of the most commonly used plastic materials.

Undetectable carbon black is not recognized in sorting processes that use Near Infra-red technology. This means dark-colored plastic packaging, like meat and vegetable trays, are often incinerated or deposited in landfill.

Inspired to adapt
SC Johnson is already putting the rules into action

As proud members of the coalition, we’re committed to its Golden Design Rules. In fact, while the rules were only announced in December 2020, we already had internal projects underway to address these goals. For example, our family company was already working to remove carbon black from our packaging and to add perforations to shrink sleeves on our bottles.

We’re taking part in and supporting the coalition’s other initiatives too. For example, the group has announced a position on the crucial issue of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging. This includes a set of guidelines for EPR programs that drive collective action on recycling. We look forward to reporting on the impact of these important guidelines.