Following recent updates to NIST mulch testing protocols and significant increases in training of state officials, compliance inspections are expected to rise. If unprepared, commercial mulch producers could become vulnerable to unexpected liabilities that disrupt or damage business.
In the 1990s, interest in at-home gardening and DIY landscaping soared as many urban populations grew at some of the fastest rates in history. As a result, landscape mulch quickly became a hot commodity, producing a sudden spike in product demand for commercial mulch producers across the country.
According to the National Gardening Association, in 1998, about 21.6 million households reported using landscape mulch products, nearly double from just six years earlier. However, while commercial mulch producers enjoyed increased product demand, many struggled to keep up with the sudden surge in production and the associated costs. Unfortunately, with little industry regulation, a few manufacturers resorted to short-packing mulch bags to cut freight costs.
In response, the Mulch and Soil Council (MSC) began working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop testing protocols for packaged mulch products. As part of this joint action, the MSC requested that the NIST coordinate a multi-state mulch product inspection to understand better where the industry stood in product packaging practices. The survey showed that across 16 states, with hundreds of thousands of market samples examined, more than 80 percent of the tested products failed inspection on volume measure.
These significant results led to the MSC developing special training programs focused on educating industry members about quality control, product labeling and overall best management practices for plant managers. State regulators also began continuous training on proper inspection procedures. As a result, two years later, the NIST reconducted its survey. Only 20 percent of products failed inspection this time, and all facilities participating in the MSC’s plant manager training programs passed.
Looking to Mulch Industry Experts
Under-filled product packages are a considerable liability for commercial mulch facilities. They can put them at risk for state fines, loss of customers and disruption of business caused by stop-work orders. However, staying informed and implementing these practices can be difficult for any mulch plant manager.
On August 24th, plant managers, quality control specialists and packaging line supervisors across the United States will attend the Plant Managers Training Course on Weights and Measures. The Mulch and Soil Council created this critical training program to educate participants on regulations and best practices for bulk mulch products.
Viably (formerly Komptech Americas) is a long-time member and supporter of the Mulch and Soil Council and its mission to promote product quality and a fair, open marketplace in the mulch and soil industry. In addition, is also a sponsor of MSC’s training and continuous education for the commercial mulch production industry.
The growth of the mulch market continues to show no signs of slowing down. Demand for packaged mulch and other ground covering is projected to rise 3% per year to $760 million by 2024, according to Freedonia’s Lawn & Garden Mulch Demand and Sales Forecast Report. Commercial mulch production facilities that maintain best-practice standards and stay up to date with industry regulations will ensure their success over the long term.
For more information and to register for the Plant Managers Training Course, visit: https://www.mulchandsoilcouncil.org/PlantManager.php.
Wednesday, August 24, 2022 – 7:15 AM–5:00 PM
The LINQ Hotel – Las Vegas, NV
3535 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109