SC Johnson Stakes Out Wind Power Turf

SC Johnson expands wind powerA short while back, we were discussing how SC Johnson had turned a neat marketing trick by announcing that it would manufacture its iconic Windex brand with the help of U.S. wind power (what else?) generated on site at its facility in Waxdale, Wisconsin. Now the company has expanded its use of wind power into Pledge and other products, through a power purchase agreement with a wind farm in Mexico.

All things being equal, wind power makes sense from a bottom line perspective because studies are starting to show that consumers prefer to buy products made with renewable energy. The bare bottom line, though, doesn’t really give full credit to the powerful approach that SC Johnson has adopted.

SC Johnson and a global energy policy

Specifically, SC Johnson has taken the unusual step of linking its sustainability outlook directly to President Obama’s call for vigorous action on climate change, and to international cooperation on climate change.

In a guest article for Triple Pundit just last week, SC Johnson’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kelly M. Semrau, referenced the President’s second inaugural address, in which he devoted a significant amount of time to global warming and pledged that the U.S. will “respond to the threat of climate change.” Semrau also noted that world leaders were convening at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to discuss sustainable ways to “meet the basic needs of our planet’s 9 billion people.”

That’s a refreshingly down-to-earth perspective from a major American company about the need for collective action.

It’s especially timely since extremists on the right wing fringe, presumably including many people who have used various SC Johnson products for most of their lives, have been steadily ginning up hysteria over the United Nations’ Agenda 21 goals (voluntary guidelines, to be precise) for sustainable development.

SC Johnson and U.S. wind power

In our previous article on SC Johnson’s wind power program, we noted that the U.S. wind power project in Wisconsin has provided the company with a way to help its customers make more sustainable choices in terms of energy, without having to cope with any noticeable changes in their favorite brands.

By association, that also helps to establish wind power as a familiar, mainstream choice, translating brand loyalty into a new energy loyalty.

Carrying that thought forward, energy choice becomes a powerful transitional step that can help consumers move on to choose products made with more sustainable ingredients, but which still carry the familiar brand names that trust (disclaimer: I spent a lot of time in the woods as a kid, basically surviving on OFF!).

SC Johnson’s home page suggests how companies can push that transition forward. It features a large, splashy section on the company’s wind power initiatives in a prominent position, clearly signalling that the company is moving on to a more sustainable future.

As for SC Johnson’s latest wind power venture in Mexico, around the middle of this year the company will start buying electricity from a wind farm in Oxaca, which will power its facility in Toluca. That facility manufactures Pledge and Glade, among other products.

The project will help SC Johnson reach its goal of using 44 percent renewable energy for the electricity used in its operations worldwide, by 2016.

Along with wind power, the company’s renewable energy initiatives also include using agricultural waste like palm shells and rice husks for biomass fuel in Indonesia. In China, SC Johnson is using solar hot water heaters for a variety of operations including food service, aerosol production and labwork.

SC Johnson and the State of the Union

When you think about it, SC Johnson really is taking the climate change bull by the horn, so to speak.

By strongly linking SC Johnson’s sustainability goals with President Obama’s inaugural address, Kelly Semrau has put the company in a vanguard position to “own” the President’s State of the Union address tonight, which many anticipate will vigorously address the need for action on climate change.

That brings us to another point of more immediate interest to the business community. It’s no accident that SC Johnson, at age 127, is still going strong with a roster of successful brands, namely GLADE®, KIWI®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC®.

SC Johnson clearly has its finger on the pulse of mainstream American consumers, so if SC Johnson is giving wind power the place of honor in its corporate image, that’s certainly a trend worth noting.

[Image: PLEDGE® courtesy of SC Johnson]

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Tina writes frequently for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

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