In February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Johnson & Johnson’s 2018 “Health for Humanity Report”, which contained the company’s environmental reporting data for that year.

The report detailed how the company had taken steps to reduce its environmental impact in relation to packaging materials, the sourcing of raw materials, energy use, shipping, waste, palm oil and water use. The company was therefore considered to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main impacts.

The report contained a detailed breakdown of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Two dated and quantified future targets were found in the report:

- Reduce absolute carbon emissions 20% by 2020, and 80% by 2050 (compared to 2010)

- Produce/procure 35% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020; aspire to power all facilities with renewable energy by 2050.

The data in the report was independently verified by ERM Certification and Verification. Overall, Johnson & Johnson received Ethical Consumer’s best rating for environmental reporting.

Reference:

2018 Health for Humanity Report (2018)

In March 2020, Ethical Consumer searched Johnson & Johnson’s website for the company's policy on the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers. In the Health for Humanity 2018 section, it was stated that the company had removed microbeads from its personal care products worldwide. No other information was found about other microplastics or non-biodegradable liquid polymers.

According to Beat the Microbead, there are more than 500 known microplastics ingredients that can be found in our personal care products such as toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels. They are tiny plastic particles that are added for their exfoliating properties, but sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes only.

A recent report by Code Check found that non-biodegradable liquid polymers were also prevalent across a wide range of cosmetic products. Like microplastics, these materials degrade with a similar difficulty in the environment and may cause similar harm.

In 2018, the UK government banned the use of microbeads in toothpastes, shower gels and facial scrubs. However, some products classified as “leave on” were not subject to the ban, this would include lotions, sun cream and makeup, as well as abrasive cleaning products. This ban did not extend to non-biodegradable liquid polymers.

Given that the company’s did not have a clear policy on the use of all microplastics in its products, nor did it address the issue of non-biodegradable liquid polymers, the company lost half a mark under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference:

Fast Facts: The Johnson & Johnson Safety Process (2020)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Johnson & Johnson corporate website for the company's policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

Some forms or uses of these chemicals were banned or restricted in the EU or the USA.
Triclosan is an antibacterial and a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer. They are used as preservatives. Phthalates, usually DEP or DBP, are used in fragrances and are endocrine disruptors.

A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use.

A page on Johnson & Johnson’s website entitled ‘Fast Facts: The Johnson & Johnson Safety Process’, included a list of ingredients that were stated not to be used in any of the company’s products; this list included triclosan, phthalates and butylparaben, but did not extend to all parabens.

As two of the three specified chemicals were not used, Johnson & Johnson received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its pollution and toxics policy and lost half a mark in this category.

Reference:

Fast Facts: The Johnson & Johnson Safety Process (2020)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the Johnson and Johnson website and saw that it manufactured products using cotton. Ethical Consumer also searched for a company policy on sourcing cotton. No policy could be found.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Overall the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

Website (30 April 2019)

Forest 500, ‘the world’s first rainforest rating agency’, is a project of the Global Canopy Programme. In 2019, it published its fifth annual ranking. It ranks 350 of the biggest companies in forest-risk supply chains and the 150 biggest investors in these companies.

Tropical rainforests cover 7% of the earth, but contain 50% of global biodiversity. Their ecosystems regulate global water systems and the climate, and they directly support the livelihoods of over a billion people. The social and economic benefits of these services are estimated to be in the trillions.

Over two thirds of tropical deforestation is driven by the production of a handful of commodities including; palm oil, soya, timber, paper and pulp, beef, and leather. These commodities are in products we use every day and are present in more than 50% of the packaged products in our
supermarkets.

Companies and financial institutions had been assessed and ranked in respect to their policies addressing potential deforestation embedded in forest-risk commodity supply chains. The 2018 report stated that "the Forest 500 methodology was updated in 2018 to better distinguish between companies who have set commitments, and those that have taken the next step towards implementation. This new methodology has meant that many companies have received lower scores this year." A document on the 2019 methodology stated that had been updated again to better align with the guidance of the Accountability Framework, a set of norms and guidance on ethical supply chains developed by a coalition of civil society partners. Three new indicators were added and two indicators were updated.

The Forest 500 ranking and analysis will be repeated annually until 2020, to help inform, enable and track progress towards deforestation free supply chains.

Each company was rated from 0-5, across five categories:

Johnson & Johnson was one of the 350 companies rated in the 2019 report.

It received an overall score of 3. Its scores in each category were as follows:
Overall Approach 1 out of 5

Commodity Score (palm, paper & pulp) 3 out of 5

Commitment Strength 3 out of 5

Reporting and implementation 3 out of 5

Social Considerations 3 out of 5

The company was a Consumer Goods Forum member but had not signed up to the following collective commitment: New York Declaration on Forests signatory

As it had scored under 4 overall, it lost half a mark under Habitats and Resources.

Reference:

Forest 500 - 2019 ranking (2019)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer downloaded the Johnson & Johson 2018 Annual Communication on Progress (ACOP) to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) from the RSPO's website and looked at the information provided in the company’s report entitled 2018 Palm Progress Report.

81% of the total palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil derivatives used by the company was reported to be certified by the RSPO although only a small portion of this was through a segregated mechanism. The company picked up additional marks for disclosing volumes and having a group wide commitment.

The company had taken steps to map its palm oil supply chain, stating it had “improved transparency to mill-level for 82% of our palm oil derivatives volumes from our top suppliers” (the company was sourcing derivatives only). It was awarded half of the available point for this criterion, as it accounted for less than 100% of the volume.

It was not conducting any additional positive initiative regarded as significant and it did not disclose its suppliers. Overall it received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its palm oil policy and practice.

Reference:

Generic www.rspo.org (2020)

In March 2018 Greenpeace International released its report called “Moment of truth time for brands to come clean about their links to forest destruction for palm oil”.

The report was based on the fact that in 2010 members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) pledged to do their bit to protect forests and limit climate change, with a clear commitment to clean up global commodity supply chains by 2020.

However Greenpeace stated “with less than two years to go until 2020, deforestation to produce commodities such as palm oil shows no sign of slowing down. Corporate commitments and policies have proliferated, but companies have largely failed to implement them. As a result, consumer brands, including those with ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ (NDPE) policies, still use palm oil from producers that destroy rainforests, drain carbon-rich peatland and violate the human rights of workers and local communities – making their customers complicit in forest destruction, climate change and human rights abuses.”

At the start of 2018, Greenpeace International challenged 16 leading members of the CGF to demonstrate their progress towards a clean palm oil supply chain. It called on them to disclose publicly the mills that produced their palm oil, and the names of the producer groups that controlled those mills. Eight of the global brands responded to Greenpeace’s challenge and published data revealing where and from whom they ultimately buy palm oil. It said “Transparency and accountability – including the publication of explicit details about who produces the palm oil that companies use – create the conditions for sectoral reform.”

Johnson & Johnson refused to supply Greenpeace with any details of its palm oil supply chain.

Yet in 2017, Greenpeace assessed the actions palm oil traders were taking to ensure that they were not buying from producers that were destroying rainforests, draining peatlands or exploiting workers and local communities. It said “Although most traders had published NDPE policies, there were serious problems with their implementation: inconsistent standards, questionable enforcement and non-existent deadlines. Not only was the palm oil industry not working to the 2020 deadline set by brands, it did not even have a common timeline for delivering a palm oil supply free from deforestation and other social and environmental harms.”

Johnson & Johnson lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer's palm oil category due to the fact Greenpeace concluded “none of the major traders can yet be relied upon to supply brands with palm oil that meets their NDPE standards; indeed, they are all known to source from forest destroyers... It follows that by sourcing from these traders brands are buying palm oil contaminated by forest destruction.”

Reference:

Moment of truth time for brands to come clean about their links to forest destruction for palm oil (

According to Greenpeace, Johnson & Johnson was among the worst-performing companies in a March 2016 report on palm oil sourcing.
Greenpeace said "Johnson & Johnson, a US manufacturer of personal care brands including Neutrogena and
Aveeno, has little understanding of the risks in its supply chain. Its traceability to the mill is poor. Johnson & Johnson needs to accelerate its traceability programme and move beyond the RSPO to meet its ‘no deforestation’ commitment. However, it has excluded a supplier due to concerns over non-compliance.
Its policy explicitly references the HCS Approach and it participates in some initiatives to achieve wider sectoral reform. Johnson & Johnson does not publicly disclose its supplier list. It should disclose a complete list of known suppliers and sub-suppliers, including the location and names of mills, plantations and refineries."
The environmental group surveyed 14 companies and found that none could confidently claim that no Indonesian rainforest was destroyed in the making of their products.
According to the report, entitled "Cutting deforestation out of the palm oil supply chain", most companies could not say how much came from suppliers that comply with their own environmental standards.

Reference:

CUTTING DEFORESTATION OUT OF THE PALM OIL SUPPLY CHAIN (7 March 2016)