Our operational impacts are managed through a robust Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) management system. Our EHS software system helps us schedule compliance activities, track key EHS indicators and report and investigate incidents. We maintain an EHS Audit Program to help ensure our operations meet environmental, health and safety regulations and align with the standards we set for ourselves. Through third-party, external assessments and quarterly internal reviews, we are able to identify opportunities for continuous improvement and/or gaps in our performance. By tracking our metrics, we’re able to drive improvements in areas that matter to us as a business, including waste, water, energy and health and safety.
We recognize that we have the ability to influence how our suppliers and partners operate their businesses, and we make every attempt to work with them to create positive outcomes. Through our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, we set expectations for how we expect our partners to behave.
Health and safety
First and foremost, we are committed to the safety of our associates. Our numerous health and safety programs are designed to protect our team members. Our EHS management system is one tool that we use to promote the health and safety of our associates. Our behavior-based safety program allows our associates to submit concerns regarding conditions they perceive as unsafe or share feedback when they observe unsafe work behaviors. This feedback enables us to stay on top of safety issues in real time. Our robust health and safety policies, programs and management systems played a large role in our company’s prompt and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Focus group sessions were employed for associate feedback and input that helped refine our safety vision and values in 2021. Our vision and values are grounded in keeping our associates safe each and every day.
Safety Vision: To help all associates live their life to the fullest by fostering safety at work and at home.
- We value safety and well-being above all else.
- We believe all incidents and injuries can be prevented at work and at home.
- We are personally accountable for our own and collectively responsible for each other’s safety.
- We are all empowered to take action on safety.
- We will learn and improve by reporting all incidents and hazards.
- We will celebrate our safety successes.
- We should never be satisfied or complacent with our safety performance and culture.
We are committed to eliminating unnecessary waste from our business, whether in our direct operations or beyond, across North America. In 2021, we prioritized setting goals and identifying further opportunities where ScottsMiracle-Gro can contribute to reducing waste. We work to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills within our own operations. We aim to reduce our materials use, recycle or reuse materials as much as possible. Our plants have implemented a range of recycling initiatives, including wooden pallets, cardboard and plastic, and communicated with our associates how to reduce their impacts. We are also in the process of developing a new food waste composting program at our headquarters in Marysville, Ohio. Across our operations, we diverted approximately 140,100 short tons of waste from landfills in 2021.
Post-industrial plastic film scrap recycling program
Our manufacturing plants generate a significant amount of mixed plastic film waste, which is generated from raw material packaging and production consumer bag scrap. Because of its variety and the presence of product residue, this material is impractical to recycle using traditional mechanical methods and typically ends up in landfills. Flexible packaging is a major recycling challenge, since it is difficult to sort and clean to a level that supports its use in new products.
However, we’re making progress in this challenging area through a partnership with waste solutions company Brightmark LLC, which is building a network of plastic renewal facilities. Through this partnership, we initiated a pilot program in 2021 at several of our plants to convert mixed film scrap into valuable chemical fuels and, in the future, a feedstock to produce new plastic via a proprietary pyrolysis-based process. We now have a multi-year objective of responsibly using this process to recycle more than 1,200 tons of post-industrial film scrap per year.
Giving waste a new life, locally
We embrace our ability to innovate in ways that care for the environment. ScottsMiracle-Gro is the leading recycler of compost in North America. This includes green waste, like grass and tree trimmings, and waste from commercial landscaping, tree cultivation and agriculture. Despite their value, these waste streams often end up in landfills. Wherever possible, we redirect grass and tree clippings, bark fines, chicken litter, food waste and other items into our products. Instead of taking up valuable landfill space and contributing to methane emissions, they re-enter the growing cycle as soils, amendments and mulches.
Not only does our company recycle roughly nine billion pounds of green waste each year, but we do it locally. Over the past nine years, our growing media procurement team has developed a network of hundreds of local suppliers across North America. This network, made up of many small and medium-sized businesses, provides the raw ingredients for our growing media products. This “growing local” strategy reduces the costs and emissions associated with shipping heavy organic materials over long distances and helps ensure we develop high-quality product blends that meet the needs of each area. Because we operate dozens of growing media facilities across North America, a bag of our soil is sourced, produced and used, on average, within a 120-mile radius.
Water stewardship, including water quality and quantity, continues to be an area of focus for our company. Harmful algal blooms, driven by nutrient runoff, are exacerbated by climate change through increasing temperatures and increasing frequency and intensity of rainfall events, particularly in the eastern United States. In the American West, drought continues to drive urgency around conserving limited resources. We recognize these as both risks and opportunities for our business and continue to invest in developing products that enable consumers in these regions to care for their lawns and landscapes while protecting their water resources. In addition, we continue to invest in partnerships with leading environmental organizations to tackle this issue head-on. With a combined reach of more than 150 million people, these organizations are at the forefront of change by driving scientific innovation, protecting vital waterways and advocating for all Americans’ right to safe and accessible water.
As a responsible steward, we explore ways to reduce the amount of water we use in manufacturing and reduce our water-related impacts on communities where we live and work. While our manufacturing processes generate wastewater, we do not discharge untreated process wastewater. At two plants where most of our water use occurs, we’ve developed successful programs to reduce wastewater and mitigate wastewater impact by reclaiming water from our manufacturing processes. For example, because the water used in fertilizer production at our Marysville manufacturing plant is nutrient-rich, we have found ways to beneficially reuse it once it is no longer suitable for the manufacturing process. Rather, we remove and reuse this water consistent with regulations and best practices for wastewater treatment.
Protecting the waterways around our Marysville plant continues to be a top priority for our company. That’s why we agreed in 2019 to participate in an advisory committee with American Farmland Trust (AFT) for its Upper Scioto Watershed Project. This project aims to reduce runoff and protect surface waters in this critical watershed. The Upper Scioto is situated in one of the Midwest’s most fertile farmlands, which today is one of the biggest nutrient contributors to the Ohio River. Our company is actively working with the AFT and other area stakeholders to support the protection of this vital watershed, both now and for future generations.
Water considerations for product design
Lawn and garden products can require residential water usage. By creating products that protect against inadvertent runoff during product use, we’re able to help consumers conserve water. We partner with several environmental groups to inform and advance our approach. These partnerships enable us to make product enhancements, including changes to our product formulations and improved application devices. For example, many of our soil products contain coconut coir. This super-absorbent natural fiber helps our products retain water and make it available to plants when they need it. Additionally, we developed the Gro™ Watering Solutions product line to deliver smart water usage and water conservation for gardeners. We also produce spreaders with Edgeguard® and liquid products with precision wand applicators that are easy to use and designed to keep the product where it belongs and out of waterways.
We share concerns about the potential for over fertilization, as hazardous algae blooms, fed by excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, threaten our waterways. Over 10 years ago, we challenged ourselves to create a phosphorus-free high-performance lawn fertilizer, leading to the removal of over 10,000 metric tons of phosphorus across our lawn maintenance fertilizers.
Today, we continue improving and adding to our line of slow-release nitrogen technologies. In 2020, we launched Ecoscraps® Slow–Release Fertilizer, derived from recycled nutrients from the water reclamation process. We also modified the composition of our Florida formulas, including 65% slow-release nitrogen, to help protect Florida’s critical waterways from nutrient pollution. Similarly, we recently launched Scotts® Turf Builder™ Long Island Lawn Food™ designed in collaboration with local regulatory and environmental groups. These achievements are part of our ongoing work to expand our capabilities to meet the needs of sensitive ecosystems. In concert with our partners, these efforts work to minimize the potential of losing access to clean water, a fundamental human right.
Concentrates that can be dispensed safely at the point of use are an emerging area of focus in our product design. We believe that the use of concentrated versions of our products will help lower our water use in manufacturing processes and decrease our emissions through shipping lighter products.
Finally, we innovate the indoor growing and hydroponic product landscape through our hawthorne business. Hydroponic growing has many benefits, including the ability to reduce water use in growing plants and require less fertilizer and space inputs. It also enables food to be grown closer to the source, potentially cutting down transport distance, cost and emissions.
We actively work to reduce the impacts of our products, and carefully balance the need to reduce water and maintain a high level of consumer safety. We will continue to engage with our customers and consumers to find innovative ways to deliver our products in a safe but less impactful way.
Energy and emissions
We recognize that by reducing our energy use and increasing our energy efficiency, our company can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our operations. to correctly represent our emissions, we must accurately capture our energy footprint and data from all of our emissions sources. In 2020 and 2021, we made substantial progress in understanding our energy and emissions impacts, including working with a third-party to establish and complete a robust GhG emissions inventory and baseline. Over the next year, we intend to gather the information required to develop an ambitious emissions reduction goal, including benchmarking scope 3 emissions, with the hope of publishing this information in future reporting. For more information on our climate and GHG impacts, please see our CDP climate responses.
Our primary energy use comes from electricity and natural gas used to power our operations, as well as fleet fuel for our sales team. We seek to convert 20% of our field sales fleet to hybrid vehicles by 2025 to reduce energy from one of our primary uses, and subsequently also reduce emissions. This is part of an ongoing effort to look for ways to reduce the impact of our energy usage.
Our products also help our customers reduce emissions. Many of our products help grow living plants, which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In addition, our products help promote energy efficiency. For example, as one of the largest producers of horticulture lights in the world, our Hawthorne business offers energy-efficient and patented lighting options for end users. In 2020, Hawthorne introduced the Gavita 1700e, a highly efficient LED light option for indoor growing systems. This product offers LED light fixtures listed and certified to the Designlights Consortium, an energy efficiency program that rewards customers for purchasing energy-efficient lighting products through rebates and other incentives.
We also recognize that with a changing climate, some customers may need different products to enable resource efficiency in their area. We designed our provista™ turfgrass to require less frequent maintenance, reducing the typical resources necessary to maintain a lawn, including water and energy. While all yards can minimize and absorb carbon dioxide, ProVista™ turfgrass requires less mowing and weed control treatments than conventional turf. By requiring 50% less mowing, ProVista™ can help reduce carbon emissions from traditional gas-powered lawn mowers.
We expect our supplier partners to uphold our values as outlined in our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. We work to mitigate risk within our supply chain through our supplier standards in areas such as slavery and human trafficking, compensation and benefits, working hours, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, environmental protection and anti-bribery and corruption. We engage our suppliers annually through our supplier conference, where we share best practices and communicate our expectations.
Our Supplier Relations Policy provides guidance for our associates in upholding the appropriate standards of business ethics, professional courtesy and competence in all dealings with our suppliers. This policy directs our associates in procurement roles to provide equal opportunity for all capable suppliers, including Minority Business Enterprises.
Building on the standards in our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, we are updating our Supplier Code of Conduct and launching our Sustainable Suppliers Program in 2021 to work with our most significant suppliers to increase transparency and set shared goals around environmental stewardship, emissions and human rights.
Responsibly sourcing peat moss
Peat is a valuable ingredient in soil and potting mixes. In addition to providing an ideal soil consistency to support successful plant growth, it also has important environmental benefits, including trapping carbon and supporting wildlife. We recognize that, given these benefits, many have concerns about harvesting peat. We understand this concern, and that is why we take steps to source peat responsibly. We are proud to state that many of our peat moss production sites in Canada are Veriflora® responsibly Managed peatlands certified. The certification criteria seeks to ensure that certified companies apply measures to achieve sustainable objectives to preserve and restore these vital ecosystems while minimizing the environmental impact.
Where peat is sourced is another important consideration. Canada, our source of peat, applies strict regulatory control in terms of access to the territory and conservation of its resources. peatland management has been well documented and supported by scientific research for over 20 years. Scotts Canada participates in a national research program with the Peatland Ecology Resource Group (PERG) to learn more about peatlands and continuously improve our peatland management.
Local sourcing is an essential aspect of our supply chain program. Our company makes every effort to source as locally as possible, especially for raw materials, to help sustain local economies, ensure product traceability and reduce impacts from transportation. For our growing media business, we typically source materials for compost and green waste products within 120 miles of the plant on average.