During the 1940s in Akron, Ohio, many factories were converted from making rubber tires to making goods for the war effort. During this time, GOJO co-founder Goldie Lippman worked in a rubber factory that made rubber life rafts for the Allied troops.
After a long day, Goldie’s only option to clean her soiled hands was to use harsh solvents like benzene. Seeing how the harsh hand cleaning options affected his wife’s skin, GOJO co-founder Jerry Lippman, worked to develop the GOJO® ORIGINAL FORMULA™ Hand Cleaner. You could say GOJO was founded on a safer way to clean hands.
Today, the GOJO Purpose of Saving Lives and Making Life Better Through Well-Being Solutions drives every decision we make. We strive to make every product one that is safe, effective and good for you. As new science is presented, we evolve and improve our formulas to be even safer for people and the planet.
While an overarching purpose is extremely effective to galvanize the troops, it also helps to establish processes, goals and objectives that team members can use to connect their daily work to the long-term vision of our Purpose.
Enter the Chemical Footprint Project, a work stream of the NGO Clean Production Action. The Chemical Footprint Project developed a list of over 2,000 Chemicals of High Concern many of which are beyond what is regulated anywhere in the world. During chemical footprinting a company identifies these chemicals contained in its products and works to reduce or eliminate them over time.
In 2014, GOJO was a piloting member of the Chemical Footprint Project survey. Our experience, in part, helped us set our 2020 Sustainable Value Goal to reduce our chemical footprint by 50 percent by the end of 2020. This work has helped GOJO establish a framework for how to more effectively inventory and manage chemical ingredients and consider safer alternatives. One thing that we’ve learned, is that GOJO uses really safe ingredients.
Once a company develops goals and frameworks, it needs to do the hard work of executing. At the 2018 BizNGO Annual Meeting this past December, I presented on the below strategies that GOJO is taking to reduce chemicals of concern in our ingredient portfolio.
- Reformulate to remove or replace a chemical of concern.
GOJO chemists are constantly developing new formulas or examining how to improve existing formulas. If creating a new formulation, GOJO chemists avoid ingredients that are included on the Chemicals of High Concern list. When working on existing formulations, they look for opportunities to reduce or remove any ingredients that are listed.
- Find a new source/supplier of a raw material.
Sometimes a chemical of concern can be an impurity in an ingredient. An impurity is not added to the raw material by design and is not intended to have an effect on the raw material or the final product. An impurity may, for example, originate from the starting materials or be the result of secondary or incomplete reactions during the production process. One way to address this issue is to find a supplier (whether that is an existing supplier or a new supplier) that has a grade of the ingredient that reduces or eliminates the impurity.
Purchasing a higher-grade material can sometimes incur a cost. Looking at this cost as part of the overall ingredient portfolio or at the level of the formula rather than at the ingredient level can help you see the cost differently. A formulator might adjust the formula to counter the added cost of the safer ingredient, while still maintaining the product’s performance.
- Encourage customers to switch to an alternative product.
One strategy that can often be overlooked examines the role of the sales team. If a product that we sell contains an ingredient that is listed on the Chemical Footprint Project list, our sellers can work to switch a customer from one product to another that performs the same but without the ingredient of concern.
As a sustainability leader in our industry, GOJO recognizes that it is one stakeholder of a larger ecosystem. Our chemical footprint reduction work is one way that we help the world stay well. Visit the sustainability section of our website for more details on our commitment to sustainability.