Scotts Takes Green Steps

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Lawn care Giant Taking Green Steps but Could it be doing more?

BY RIDER THOMPSON

For a while now we’ve seen bits and pieces of evidence the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (Scotts, Miracle-Gro, Osmocote, Ortho, Roundup, Scott’s Lawnservice, Smith & Hawken, Miracle-Gro Nursery Select, Scotts Canada, Miracle-Gro Canada, Hyponex and Earthgro) is considering ways to make their products more environmentally friendly.

  • 2003 – Organic Choice line introduced
  • 2006 – Scotts announced it would reduce the phosphorus in Turf Builder lawn fertlizier by 50% by then end of 2008
  • 2007 – Scotts natural lawn fertilizer expected to be released

The Marysville, Ohio lawn care giant with $2.7 billion in annual net sales, makes the most popular lawn fertilizer in the U.S. (Scotts Turf Builder & LawnPro).  Despite its strong sales the company is in a position where it’s continued growth and dominance may rely on it being seen as more responsible and sensitive to environmental issues related to its products.

Why?  Well it’s no surprise lawns in this country use a tremendous amount of water and require fertilizers and chemicals to keep them green.  Scotts and other lawn fertilizer companies have based their business models off a consumers desire to have a green weed-free lawn.  The problem is many of their products carry at least the potential of having a negative environmental impact.

Fertilizers fuel the need for constant water usage and often are over applied by consumers.  The excess fertilizer then ends up in the ground water causing increased production of algae and other problems in rivers and streams.

So I was intrigued by a story this weekend in the Columbus Dispatch about the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. being awarded a state grant to develop and manufacture new products from sustainable and renewable resources.  The grant from Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center is worth $200,000.  Scotts will provide an additional $400,000 to the project.

The grant allows Scotts to research ways of incorporating industrial and agricultural waste byproducts into the soil and mulch products it sells.

Scotts $400,000 contribution to this research is a good step in the right direction but it seems the company could do more if it wanted to.  From a PR and marketing perspective it seems to make good business sense for Scotts to more aggressively explore environmentally friendly options for its products.

The lawn care industry is huge in the U.S. but so is the growing trend of consumers being more concerned about the products they buy.  It would seem like the industry leader; Scotts should continue to lead by innovating in this area.  Otherwise they run the risk of losing market share to other companies offering consumers the products they want.