SC Johnson and the Greenlist Backlash

Case Solution

Andrew Hoffman
WDI Publishing at the University of Michigan ()

This case centers on SC Johnson CEO H. Fisk Johnson and his decision on how to move forward with Greenlist’Ñ ¢ after resolving two legal disputes. SC Johnson developed the Greenlist ingredient improvement process to reduce the negative environmental impact of its products by replacing less harmful ingredients where possible. Significant environmental improvements have been made to many of the company’s products, such as Windex®, and the company developed a Green List label to show consumers that the process has improved a product. Two lawsuits were filed in 2008 and 2009 accusing SC Johnson of falsely marketing its products as “green” because the Green List label led consumers to believe that the products had been certified by an objective third party. The lawsuits were settled and the company was forced to remove the label. The case raises a discussion about eco-labeling, the nature of environmental certification, and the value of internal sustainability initiatives.

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