Investing in product development and research and development (R&D) strengthens our position with retailers and builds trust and support from the consumer. Comprising more than 100 on-staff research scientists, specialists and engineers, as well as collaborations with leading academic institutions, our world-class R&D team is committed to providing innovative product solutions. In pursuit of that goal, we leverage scientific expertise from leading providers of natural and organic technologies, plant breeders and agricultural companies.
As a company with a culture focused on family, we design products that create a better life for our families and our planet. Our portfolio includes products that control pests and diseases in order to protect environmentally favorable plantings and landscape investments. We are committed to using high-quality solutions that are appropriate for use by families in the residential environment. In selecting ingredients, we prioritize safety and performance to meet the needs of our gardeners and growers. We are committed to supporting a scientifically based regulatory system, educating consumers through communications and product labels and innovating to seek better solutions.
We monitor our active ingredients and look for ways to use the lowest active ingredient rate necessary while still maintaining high standards for product effectiveness. Our Packaging and Formulations teams drive new innovations that strive to maximize sustainably sourced content, eliminate unnecessary or problematic material and promote recovery, recycling and reuse. We explore new options to deliver our products to customers in ways that cut back on packaging and unnecessary waste and respond to our customers’ needs, with these goals in mind.
Research & development
R&D and product innovation are the cornerstone of ScottsMiracle-Gro, and each year we invest nearly $40 million in research, product development and innovation. Our product innovations follow a robust product development process. Each stage of this process includes established criteria for biology research, formulations and packaging development, marketing analysis and rigorous testing before moving forward to the next stage. Product development teams also consider our sustainability priorities related to formulation and packaging. Between each stage are technical and business vetting processes to ensure that the product concept is viable and we are meeting our research practice standards. As part of our sustainability strategy, a cross-functional team of R&D scientists and engineers has identified several priorities to integrate into the product development process.
Active ingredients. The R&D team conducts regular active ingredient reviews with an aim to balance priorities of safety, effectiveness and environmental impacts. We reference industry recognized scientific standards to guide us in assessing the severity of a potential hazard. We listen to our consumers and look at what is happening in the green chemistry and stewardship space. We explore opportunities to introduce active ingredients that align with our standards for product design and safety. We also practice transparency by listing active ingredients in our product portfolio and publishing a list of ingredients and their descriptions on our corporate website.
Material sourcing. When identifying raw materials, we consider potential risks and opportunities associated with each material source. Our goal is to increase the use of recycled, bio-based and/or sustainably sourced materials.
Product design. Life-cycle assessment tools help evaluate sustainability opportunities and impacts, optimize our existing products and spur innovation in new product design.
Packaging sustainability. Throughout the product development process, including product packaging, we look for opportunities to maximize sustainably sourced content, eliminate unnecessary or problematic material and promote recovery, recycling and reuse.
Our regulatory team provides rigorous, end-to-end oversight of the product development process. This team works to understand federal and state requirements from the start and ensure every product meets or exceeds their standards. Over the past decade, we have invested in continuous improvement by enhancing the separation of duties amongst the regulatory team and adding multiple internal compliance monitoring steps and checkpoints. Our Board of Directors includes a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator who further advises us on these improvements.
We prioritize human health, the environment and efficacy when designing our products. Our product development is guided by consumers’ needs and academic research expertise to ensure that we are using up-to-date scientific research and meeting the emerging interests of our customers.
In selecting ingredients for our products, we consider the following:
- Safety to humans
- Safety to animals
- Impact on the environment
- Interaction with other ingredients
- Interaction with the product packaging
- Lowest active ingredient rate necessary for product effectiveness
Packaging is a critical component of our products and business. Packaging must be durable to uphold our high product safety and quality standards and withstand exposure to a wide range of indoor and outdoor environments. We recognize that durable packaging is also an important component of the customer and consumer experience. We work hard to provide clear labels, optimize the ease of product use and prevent misapplication or off-target contact through our packaging. Our specialized packaging engineers apply rigorous, standardized methods to design, test and qualify our packaging and application devices.
Beyond product safety, quality and user experience, our company prioritizes sustainability in packaging. We recognize that many customers, consumers and other stakeholders are concerned about the environmental impact of plastic packaging. Although we often use plastic because of its durability, we put great focus on reducing material usage, increasing recycled content and supporting increased recycling rates in alignment with our ESG goals. To reduce the environmental impact of packaging, we have delivered and continue to drive multiple sustainable packaging initiatives, including:
- Redesigning packaging. We continue to expand package refill offerings to reduce the overall amount of packaging produced and used.
- Increased recycled content. We continue to increase the amount of recycled material in plastic packaging, which significantly reduces petrochemical use and emissions.
- Supporting recyclability. We’re increasing the amount of recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging.
- Sustainable material sourcing. The majority of our paper fiber-based packaging is certified as sustainably sourced by the Sustainable Forestry initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and we strive to increase this quantity to 100%.
As the leader in the lawn and garden industry, it is essential that we provide consumers with products that are simple, effective and safe when used as directed. We rigorously research ingredients and test our products to ensure they meet regulations and can be safely used around people and animals and in the environment. The labels on all of our products contain clear directions for use and when necessary, precautionary information and first aid instructions. Our company also shares product and ingredient processes and facts to our consumers through technical bulletins, our labels and marketing campaigns. We know our consumers value accurate and current information on our products, which is why we also dedicate space on our websites for sharing this information, along with additional information, such as instructions on disposal and recycling. We also partner with external experts, including universities, research centers and non-profit organizations to further promote the responsible use of our products.
Building a More Sustainable Cannabis Industry
As a new and growing industry, our subsidiary Hawthorne takes a leadership role in setting the standard for sustainable growing. From lighting and the growing environment to water systems and growing media, Hawthorne provides growers with end-to-end solutions for sustainability.
- Lighting. LED lights – coupled with smart controllers and sensors – reduce energy costs and bolster performance. The Gavita CT1930e generates 5 percent more light output than our high-pressure sodium lights while using 20 percent less energy.
- Growing environment. Air flow, filtration, humidity and ventilation are controlled in the indoor grow. Hawthorne solutions include products and partnerships, such as the exclusive Quest dehumidifier with the industry’s highest energy efficiency.
- Water systems. Hawthorne’s Hydro-Logic system reduces water use and nutrient-rich water disposal. It purifies water before nutrients are added for irrigation and then captures surplus nutrient-rich water along with water from the dehumidification process for reuse.
- Growing media. Botanicare CocoPro is a new line of products that enables growers to efficiently manage water use. The substrate material is made from compostable coconut coir in compressed form, which expands to retain water and nutrients.