Lawsuit Targets Green Labeling
According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporting, S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., based in Racine, Wis., has done some good over the years — 40 percent of electricity drawn from renewable energy; factory greenhouse gas emissions down nearly 32 percent since 2000; extensive disclosure of ingredients in home-cleaning and air-care products. But many in the industry are focused on the ongoing, 2-year-old civil lawsuit questioning the company's eco-labeling and accusing them of deceiving customers with green marketing. This includes the use of green-colored labels and self-certification "Greenlist" insignia on S.C. Johnson's glass cleaner, Windex, and its stain remover, Shout.
Litigation pending in federal court in California and Wisconsin, according to reports,
contends that S.C. Johnson is deceptively implying that Windex and
Shout have been tested by a neutral third party and been found to be
environmentally friendly. The company denies its labeling is
As reported in the article, S.C. Johnson holds a patent on Greenlist, and the system has helped the company achieve such results as eliminating nearly 48 million pounds of volatile organic compounds from its products in the last five years. And Greenlist in 2006 won an award from an Environmental Protection Agency program established to recognize innovative, pollution-preventing chemical technologies. S.C. Johnson also says on its website that Greenlist was "scientifically reviewed" by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
Regardless of its effectiveness, speculation arises because of how S.C. Johnson discloses its connection to Greenlist.
That's a key issue in the litigation, and it could be a further issue
for the company if revised regulations proposed in October by the
Federal Trade Commission take effect.
Prompted by the increasing trend toward "green marketing," the agency says the revisions would strengthen its guidance to help companies avoid misleading environmental claims.
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