SPC Member Spotlight: Johnson & Johnson’s Project Phoenix

“Member Spotlight” is the newest addition to our GreenBlue blog where we will regularly highlight the sustainability achievements and initiatives of a Sustainable Packaging Coalition member company.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has a long history of inspiring projects and initiatives ranging from environmental campaigns like their Care to Recycle campaign, to global healthcare work with Operation Smile. A recent Johnson & Johnson initiative that caught our attention is Project Phoenix, a program established in 2009 that helps recycling cooperatives in Brazil improve their operational processes, document their policies and develop a stronger social infrastructure.

Project Phoenix came about as J&J reevaluated the packaging of their Band-Aid brand boxes. They were hoping to find a source of high-quality, reliable, post-consumer recycled content from a socially responsible supplier to use for Band-Aid packaging. The packaging is manufactured in Brazil near the Futura Cooperative, a recycling co-op in São José de Campos, offering J&J the perfect opportunity for collaboration.

When Project Phoenix began in 2009, the Futura Cooperative was a typical cooperative with typical working conditions by local standards. It employed hundreds of catadores, or waste pickers, to pick through landfill debris searching for recoverable and recyclable materials.

Despite being an effective co-op by South American standards, the Futura Cooperative had room for improvement. With goals to improve the social, living, and working conditions of Futura employees while simultaneously ensuring that their Band-Aid packaging would have a steady supply of recycled paper for sustainable production, Johnson & Johnson embarked on Project Phoenix.

J&J Cooperative

Modeled on SA8000, a global social accountability standard for ethical working conditions that was developed by Social Accountability International, Project Phoenix transformed Futura Cooperative from an average waste cooperative to a truly sustainable enterprise with  inspiring environmental and social accomplishments.

J&J helped to improve the co-op’s processes by implementing material flow documentation, putting in place day-to-day operational processes and management systems, and teaching the importance of the SA8000 certification. Most of these actions were novel to the cooperative employees. However, they were genuinely motivated, and following education and training, and necessary program changes, the Futura Cooperative and its employees reaped the benefits, becoming the first cooperative in the world to receive SA8000 certification.

Today, the Futura Cooperative is a truly sustainable business enterprise providing a valuable service to its customers, while also positively impacting its employees, the community, and the environment. Business and employment requests from the São José de Campos community have skyrocketed, as the co-op has proven to be an admirable supply chain partner and employer. As a result of its 50% increase in productivity, the co-op now needs a larger facility.

Employees are proud of their work and the company they work for. Futura has established clear and beneficial work standards for its employees. With its improved working conditions and more sustainable practices, Futura is thriving.

For more information on Project Phoenix and other Johnson & Johnson company initiatives visit http://www.jnj.com/caring/

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