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Colored Mulch

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Colored Mulch

Post  SQWIB on 1/15/2018, 12:51 pm

I have this up on my website and figured it may help some folks.


Mulch


January 15th, 2018



There appears to be a lot of misinformation on the web regarding colored mulch and it seems colored mulches are all usually lumped together.

If one was to do a bit of googling on the subject, they would think that using colored mulch will kill you and your family, have your neighbors fire-bomb your house or destroy the planet.

This article is just about the safety of using the specific bagged color mulches as described below, not about ALL colored mulches, the carbon footprint, how unnatural and gaudy bagged colored mulches are, robbing nitrogen from the soil, quality of the mulch, etc..., these are all topics of discussion for another day.




OK Back on topic,



Most sites regurgitate the same misinformation, "Colored mulch may contain CCA, colored mulch is made up of old wood pallets , demolished buildings and or pressure treated woods. Maybe some of this is true, but it's not accurate to lump all colored mulches together.


There are also sites that do give some good information and tell you that some colored mulches are safe but they don't tell you how to determine what is safe and what isn't, basically they just tell you to do your homework. In the past I have done my homework so to speak and on one occasion I ordered a cubic yard of mulch to be delivered and half of its got paint all over it with quite a few other things mixed in mainly metals and glass, that was the last time I ordered mulch from a landscaper.

I know foreign objects will find their way into some of these mulches but what I experienced was unacceptable.


I have been using Bagged colored mulches, mostly Red Mulch for years and although the color is a bit "too much" in the beginning, I like how it ages after a year or so, but that is my opinion. Maybe I'll update this page later with my opinions of why I use colored mulch but that is not what this article is about.

I am the type of person that needs to find out out things for myself, I try not to give into the same old information regurgitated over and over and by my experience I posted above, tells me, I can't trust suppliers either.

With that in mind, I did a bit of research and wrote to the company that certifies the mulch I currently purchase.


The company is called The Mulch and Soil Council.


Here is a quip from The Mulch and Soil Council's website about Certification  


The MSC Product Certification Program was developed to help consumers, retailers, regulators and others identify products that conform to the Voluntary Uniform Product Guidelines for Horticultural Mulches, Growing Media and Landscape Soils (VUPG). In 2003, the MSC launched its Product Certification Program. Products that pass the review and testing requirements and comply with ongoing audit testing of products in retail markets earn the badge of the MSC certification logo for their packaging.

So exactly how do I determine if the mulch is safe? I decided to contact "The Mulch and Soil Council" via e-mail.



Dear Sirs,

I am trying to find out definitive information on two products sold at a few of the Big Box Stores
Vigoro Colored Mulch (red)
Scotts Earthgro Mulch (Red)
Do these products contain any recycled wood at all in the form of construction materials, pallets, milled lumbers and the like?
Both are a certified products of the Mulch and Soil Council, but there are no specifics to what the product contains.
This is a quip from the Mulch and Soil Council website, but I don't see anything about what the product is actually made from.
To assist regulators, retailers and consumers in determining what products conform to industry guidelines, the MSC conducts a voluntary product certification program. Products qualifying for certification must pass product and label review, laboratory testing and periodic field inspection in order to use the MSC certification mark on bags.

I really appreciate your valued time,

Me




Then a quick reply from the Mulch and Soil Council.


Dear Mr. Me:

Thank you for your inquiry. All MSC certified products are required to have an ingredient statement on the label. While it may not stand out prominently and you may have to read the “small” type, it MUST be there. An ingredient statement is a required element in the industry standards, and Its absence is an actionable violation of the certification agreement. We should note that if the product name is sufficiently descriptive of the product, i.e., shredded hardwood mulch, no additional ingredient statement is required.

Since many labels apply to products that are regionally sourced, it may list "natural wood products" or "forest products" as a generic category for virgin wood. Such products are generally made from hardwood or pine species.
Pallet grindings, construction materials, and any treated wood and/or wood products reclaimed from post consumer or post industrial uses must be labeled “reprocessed wood" or “recycled wood" in its ingredient statement. Treated wood containing CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate) is not allowed in certified products.

You mentioned "milled lumbers” which we include in the virgin wood product category IF the following restrictions are met: 1. It is untreated wood 2. It represents mill scrap that has not been circulated as a consumer or industrial product.
For example, a pallet mill can sell its scrap from newly constructed but untreated and unsold/uncirculated pallets as virgin wood since the wood has not been exposed to potential contaminants. The same would apply to other wood products like shingle, fence, or wood truss manufacturers provided the same restrictions are met.

I hope this answers your question. If you have any further queries, please let me know.
Sincerely,

Robert C. LaGasse
Executive Director
Mulch & Soil Council
7809 FM 179
Shallowater, TX 79363
Tel: [url=tel:(806) 832-1810]806.832.1810[/url]
Fax: [url=tel:(806) 832-5244]806.832.5244[/url]
E-mail: execdir@mulchandsoilcouncil.org





And a follow up on the dyes used in these colored mulches.


Dear Me:

The dyes are ferric oxide for red, carbon black and various combinations for browns. These are essentially the same components used in cosmetics and are below any minimum safety reporting requirement of the Environmental Protection Agency. These dyes represent no danger to people, plants, animals or the environment.

Thanks,
Bob

Robert C. LaGasse
Executive Director
Mulch & Soil Council
7809 FM 179
Shallowater, TX 79363
Tel: [url=tel:(806) 832-1810]806.832.1810[/url]
Fax: [url=tel:(806) 832-5244]806.832.5244[/url]
E-mail: execdir@mulchandsoilcouncil.org





OK, Thank-you Bob from Mulch and Soil Council


With all that said I wanted to share what I know factually through written research only and not a lab, so take it as such, hopefully this will thwart any fears some may have of buying bagged mulch .

I purchase the following types of Bagged mulch Scotts Earthgro (Red) and Old Castle Vigoro (Red) from Home Depot. Below is how I determine if it is safe for may garden, yes veggies as well as flowers.


  • Look for the MSC Certification. Once you see this certification look for the ingredients statement. Just know that the Mulch and Soil Council do not certify against the possibility of pesticides in the mulch.




  • Then look at the ingredients, you want to see the wording "Contains Natural Forest Products"



Now, there is always a chance of some unscrupulous activity going on and the only way to be 100% sure is to have every bag you purchase tested by a lab, and we know that is never going to happen, so take a bit of comfort in knowing that MSC certified bags of mulch that state "Natural Forest Products" will give you piece of mind knowing they are safe to use in food gardens.


I am slowly moving away from bagged garden materials and will be using shredded wood mulch from my Local Recycle Center, but that is for another topic.


Disclaimer. All the above is based on research via written communication and no testing in labs have been done.
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Re: Colored Mulch

Post  sanderson on 1/15/2018, 4:36 pm

Very interesting. It's nice to know what additives are used for the dyes and the labeling requirements under MSC.

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Re: Colored Mulch

Post  No_Such_Reality on 1/17/2018, 11:55 am

You'll want to carefully vet your local recycler before using their mulch to verify that it's only formal drying like the city tree service.  If it's urban/suburban green waste bins those are often contaminated with treated wood,pesticides and whatever else lazy homeowners are through in t he bin because they want it gone.

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Re: Colored Mulch

Post  SQWIB on 1/17/2018, 1:50 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote:You'll want to carefully vet your local recycler before using their mulch to verify that it's only formal drying like the city tree service.  If it's urban/suburban green waste bins those are often contaminated with treated wood,pesticides and whatever else lazy homeowners are through in t he bin because they want it gone.

I really don't understand what formal drying is and as far as I know the city doesn't do green waste bins recyclables. Most of the materials come fr

Here is a link that explains the process.
Recycling Center
.
Older PDF But informative

It is all supposed to be Organic, but anything is possible and without testing, one would not know for sure.
The recycle center does put out an annual Compost Report, but as far as the mulch goes, who knows?

Quip from the website

The Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center

The Department of Parks and Recreation has an organic recycling center in West Fairmount Park. Accepted materials are leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, brush and herbivore manure. Materials available for pick up are compost, wood chips, shredded wood mulch and herbivore manure.
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Re: Colored Mulch

Post  No_Such_Reality on 1/18/2018, 7:12 pm

Formal drying is the insane autocorrect on the FireHD.  I don't remember what I was writing but probably something like from just tree trimmings.

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Re: Colored Mulch

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