Johnson & Johnson's Strides Toward Sustainable Healthcare

To the average consumer, Johnson & Johnson is synonymous with baby shampoo. In reality, the consumer products behemoth is also the world's largest healthcare company and a sustainability pioneer, ranking #3 on Newsweek's list of Biggest Green Companies.

Al Iannuzzi, senior director of Worldwide Health & Safety, is responsible for product stewardship and green marketing programs across the Johnson & Johnson enterprise, a conglomerate of approximately 250 companies worldwide totaling an estimated $62 billion in sales.

Iannuzzi recently presented Johnson & Johnson's new green product development program at the State of Green Business 2011 in Washington D.C. To learn more, I invited him for a Q&A on his company's eco-leadership:

Anna Clark: What got Johnson & Johnson headed down the sustainability path?

Al Iannuzzi: We put out new sustainability goals every five years. In fact, we've had sustainability goals in place since the early '90s. But the greatest driving force really ties back to our Credo, the backbone of our EHS processes and everything we do: We are to be good stewards and to protect the environment and be a good corporate citizen. Our largest sector is medical devices and diagnostics; health and sustainability are a natural fit.

Also, Wal-Mart is our largest customer in the world. Their focus on sustainability helps to reinforce the importance of our initiatives to our business. This same idea is cropping up with our medical products customers as well. Hospitals are focusing more on sustainability because they run 24/7 and produce a constant stream of waste. Sustainability can help them reduce their footprint as well as their operating costs.

Clark: When did you launch the EARTHWARDS greener product development program?

Iannuzzi: Back in the late '90s, I started the design for the environment program for Johnson & Johnson. We had some early successes but felt we needed to raise the bar. We wanted to make it easier for our development teams to understand how to make their products greener based on lifecycle thinking and to get good, science-based, greener claims to market while doing a better job of communicating the importance of sustainability. We built EARTHWARDS in 2009 to accomplish these goals.

Clark: Describe the process. How will it make your products more sustainable?

Iannuzzi: Our EARTHWARDS greener product development process offers a suite of tools and resources that: 1) supports development of sustainable products through lifecycle thinking; 2) enables sustainable innovation; and 3) helps to generate meaningful and credible sustainability claims.