EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Cosmetics Giant’s Phase Out Plan for Toxic Chemicals

A toxics watchdog campaigning for consumer access to information on chemicals in products and for safer consumer goods has lauded a historic move by a transnational company to remove certain chemicals of concern in their product line.

The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the announcement made by Johnson & Johnson, a global market leader, to reformulate its cosmetics and personal care products for babies and adults by the end of 2015 that will eventually replace certain ingredients considered as carcinogens and endocrine disruptors with safer alternatives.

“Johnson & Johnson’s phase out plan for sinister chemicals will be beneficial for human and environmental health that should be emulated by both local and foreign cosmetics companies, perhaps at an even faster pace,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We hope that our policy makers will see Johnson & Johnson’s action as an opportunity to establish stringent regulations that will phase out dangerous chemicals in cosmetics, oblige the use of non-toxic substances, and require the full disclosure of ingredients,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged manufacturers, as part of their corporate social responsiblity, to find ways to minimize the environmental impact of their packaging, including a retrieval or take back program for spent packets and sachets that often become residual garbage, filling up dumpsites, blocking waterways, causing flash floods and polluting the marine ecosystems such as the Manila Bay.

Johnson & Johnson is best known for a number of cosmetics and personal hygiene products, including Aveeno, Clean and Clear, Neutrogena, and a wide range of Johnson’s products such as baby shampoo, bubble bath, bar soap, head to toe wash, lotion, oil, powder and wipes, to name a few.

Johnson & Johnson’s shift to safer chemical ingredients was prompted by the sustained advocacy by the US Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and its allies,“citing the health of consumers, including children, as well as the health of the employees who make the products were at risk from exposure to the known toxins.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics brings together over 175 non-profit groups in US to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.

As culled by the EcoWaste Coalition from the Johnson & Johnson’s ingredient policies as stated in its website, the company will:

1. Reduce traces of 1,4 dioxane to 1 to 4 parts per million (ppm) in baby products and to below 10 ppm in adult products;

2. Phase out formaldehyde-releasers from baby and adult products;

3. Phase out the use of all parabens from baby care products, and limit parabens in adult products to methyl-, ethyl- and propyl-;

4. Phase out triclosan in adult products (infant or baby products no longer contain triclosan);

5. Phase out Diethyl Phthalate (DEP) from all adult products (baby products are now phthalate-free); and

6. Phase out animal derived ingredients, nitromusks and polycyclic musks, tagetes, rose crystal and diacetyl from fragrances, with priority given to baby products.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane cause cancer in animals, and formaldehyde was recently classified as a known human carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

Phthalates, parabens, triclosan and polycyclic musks are all considered to be likely hormone disruptors and have been linked to a variety of health problems ranging from birth defects to diabetes, obesity and breast cancer, the group further said.

“This is a major victory for public health,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund, a co-founder of the campaign. “We applaud Johnson & Johnson for its leadership in committing to remove cancer-causing chemicals from its products. We will be vigilant in making sure it meets its commitments and will continue to encourage it to remove other ingredients of concern.”

In addition to the product changes, Johnson & Johnson has launched the website www.safetyandcarecommitment.com to bring more transparency about its products to its retail and wholesale customers. The site covers the origin of the ingredients, as well as the environmental and human safety risks for each of the company’s products.

“Consumers today expect more information and greater transparency than ever before and we’re always listening to the people who use our products,” said Susan Nettesheim, Vice President of Product Stewardship & Toxicology for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. in a company-issued press release.

“On this site, we’ll do our best to explain how we make the choices we make, and to show how our plans incorporate consumers’ feedback. We want all consumers to see for themselves how and why every one of our products can be used with peace of mind,” she said.