Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health News

Ingredient Stewardship: Assessing the Environmental Impact of Our Products

Healthy lives depend on a healthy planet, which is why our scientists work tirelessly to develop products that make you feel confident in the outcomes they'll deliver for your family and for our planet, every day.

Some personal care products wash off the body and small amounts may find their way into our waterways. To understand how our formulations interact with these environments, we’ve developed the following process.

“Stewardship matters because what we put in our products impacts the health of our consumers and our planet. Our approach helps evaluate ingredients and inform our product decisions.”

- Lynne Gerke, Environmental Product Stewardship and Sustainability

1: Starting with the Global Aquatic Ingredient Assessment™ (GAIA)

We worked with independent environmental experts to develop our Global Aquatic Ingredient Assessment™ (GAIA) patented process. GAIA helps us better understand and manage the impact certain ingredients may have on our waterways.

How do we calculate each GAIA score?

Combining available public data and private data, we assess ingredients and score them on the following ingredient properties:

  • 1. The time an ingredient may take to break down in the water (Persistence)
  • 2. Whether and how much an ingredient may build up in the ecosystem (Bioaccumulation)
  • 3. Interactions with flora and fish (Ecotoxicity)

These scores are assessed together to determine the ingredient’s total GAIA score.1 The scores help guide many of our decisions, like whether to keep, reformulate, or conduct further testing on an ingredient, or what stewardship policies we set. To date, we have scored more than 1,000 ingredients.

But what makes GAIA special? The process offers a comprehensive look at both ingredients and product formulations that allow us to improve our products, considering the potential impact on the environment. The scores help us in selecting ingredients that more easily break down and biodegrade. GAIA aggregates many internal and external sources, including scientific peer reviewed studies and government databases.

GAIA and its approach are a way for us to not only assess what goes into our products and the end-of-life impact products may have on our waterways, but it also helps us work together with our partners to try to improve and reduce our impact on the planet.

While GAIA is a critical step in our ingredient stewardship, it’s just one part of a robust process to help protect our aquatic environments. Even after we’ve assessed ingredients through GAIA, sometimes we need more information to make the best decision. That’s when we move to the following steps.

2: Moving out of the lab to assess our products in the world

Depending on what we learn after the GAIA screening, we may choose to take a deeper look at an ingredient or formulation. This process is called environmental risk assessment and gives us another way to look at product formulations, studying how much actually makes its way out into the world.

3: Gathering additional research as needed

Finally, we fill in the gaps. We already know a lot at this point, but sometimes there’s still more to learn before we choose ingredients and products. So, we collaborate with trade associations, governments, universities, and other partners to identify areas for ongoing research and continuous improvement.