How SC Johnson Cut Its Emissions by 27% in 5 Years

S.C. Johnson exceeded its most recent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal by more than three times thanks to renewable energy projects and a system at its largest manufacturing plant that uses landfill byproducts in place of coal.

The company aimed to cut absolute GHG emissions by 8 percent from 2005-2010, a goal set as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders program, and achieved a 27.4 percent reduction instead. S.C. Johnson previously set an 8 percent absolute reduction goal for 2000-2005, and more than doubled that with a 17 percent cut.

Both drops in GHGs were led by two cogeneration turbines at S.C Johnson's Waxdale manufacturing facility near Racine, Wisc., it's biggest plant in the world, said Kelly Semrau, senior vice president of global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability. The turbines run on waste methane from a landfill and natural gas, generating electricty and steam.

"When setting the 2010 goal of 8 percent, it was one of the most aggressive goals in our industry at the time," Semrau said. "We felt it was a stretch goal for us as it had been determined that additional co-gen opportunities were not available."

The first turbine at the facility, which makes products like Windex and Scrubbing Bubbles, started up in 2003, and with the addition of the second in 2005 started providing all of the daily base load electricity and from half to all of the steam needed by the plant.

While the turbines are the primary source of the company's GHG reductions, Semrau said another significant contribution comes from renewable energy projects, such as purchasing enough wind power to cover 46 percent of its Bay City, Mich., factory's electricity.

Around the world, S.C. Johnson has developed other methods to drop GHG emissions by avoiding coal:

  • Its Medan, Indonesia, factory is powered in part by burning waste palm shells left over from palm oil production,
  • It installed a wind turbine that can generate 6.1 million kilowatt hours a year at its Mijdrecht, Netherlands, location,
  • And it added three mini-turbines to its headquarters in Racine to show the viability of wind power in urban environments.

"Our strategy is to constantly seek new ways to minimize our impact and our commitment to green energy spans the globe," Semrau said. "Implementation of this will vary depending upon the opportunities that are presented in each country."

Landfill image CC-licensed by M Glasgow/Flickr