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.
We are committed to eliminating unnecessary waste from our business, whether in our direct operations or beyond, across North America. In 2020, 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. At our headquarters in Marysville, Ohio, we’ve developed a successful food waste composting program, which has, in the past six years, diverted more than 118 tons of waste from landfills.
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.
We are partnering with waste solutions company Brightmark LLC, which is building a network of plastics renewal facilities. These facilities utilize a proprietary pyrolysis-based process to chemically convert the film scrap into valuable fuels and, in the future, feedstock that can be used to produce new plastic. This year we are initiating a pilot program for several of our plants, with a multi-year objective of using this process to responsibly recycle more than 1,200 tons 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 keep roughly five billion pounds of green waste out of landfills each year, but we do it locally. Over the past eight 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 to communities. A majority of our water use occurs at two plants. We’re able to focus our water stewardship efforts at these plants, where we have developed successful programs to reduce wastewater. For example, we recycle water in our manufacturing processes as many times as possible. Because the water used in fertilizer production at our Marysville manufacturing plant is nutrient-rich, we seek ways to beneficially reuse this water once we are no longer able to use it in our manufacturing process. We created a partnership with a local farmer to apply this nutrient-rich water on his crops. Plant leaders work with the farmer to ensure nutrients are applied at the right time, place and amount in keeping with agricultural best practices. Recently, we also helped the farmer construct a purpose-built storage tank for the nutrient water so he can receive and store it safely even at times of year when crops are not active. This is just one way we live out our sustainability values by contributing to a more circular economy where nothing is wasted.
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.
Energy and emissions
We work to reduce the energy impact of our operations in order to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). We carefully track and monitor energy use and emissions from around our business. Our main energy use comes from electricity and natural gas use in our operations and fleet fuel for our sales team. Our goal is to convert 20% of our sales fleet to hybrid vehicles by 2025. Emissions from our products are not a significant source of emissions for our business; rather, many of our products are used to grow plants, which are effective at removing carbon from the atmosphere. Our consumers expect us to help them reduce their emissions. We are looking at ways to reduce the impact of our energy use through initiatives such as efficiency projects and renewable energy.
Capturing our energy footprint accurately is important, and we know we have work to do when it comes to capturing the full energy impacts of our business. Over the past year, we have made great strides in improving our understanding of our energy and emissions impacts. We are reporting our available fiscal year 2020 data and continuing to explore ways to better quantify our greenhouse gas emissions so that we can better track our performance and target reductions in the future. For more information on our climate and GHG impacts, please see our CDP climate response.
Our Hawthorne business is one of the largest producers of horticulture lights in the world. While these products do not directly impact our company’s emissions or energy use, we recognize that some of these lights use energy intensively to grow plants. This impacts our consumers. We are focused on producing lights that are as energy efficient as possible for the end users. To that end, in early 2020, Hawthorne introduced the Gavita 1700e, a highly efficient LED light option for use in indoor growing systems. This product is designed to make a sustainable approach to cultivation more accessible by reducing upfront and ongoing costs. We also offer LED light fixtures that are 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 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.
Raw material sourcing
We source our raw materials on a global basis. The materials we source include urea and other fertilizer inputs, resins, sphagnum peat, coir, perlite, bark and grass seed. Where possible, we source growing media inputs within 120 miles of our manufacturing sites. Regardless of where materials are coming from, we make every effort to source them sustainably, both socially and environmentally. One example of this commitment is our voluntary approach to sustainable management of Canadian peatlands and the industry. Our peat bog sites in Quebec and New Brunswick are Veriflora certified. This is an industry standard for the responsible management of peatlands. The standards require the responsible development, harvesting and rehabilitation of sites used for peat. In addition, Scotts Canada funds multiple collaborative research projects with universities throughout Canada to improve our understanding of the impacts of peat use and best practices for rehabilitation.
Local sourcing is an important aspect of our supply chain program. We make every effort to source as locally as possible, especially for raw materials, to help sustain local economies and ensure product traceability. For our growing media business, we typically source materials for compost and green waste products within 120 miles of the plant.