Mulch and Soil Council

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WARNING! Sewage sludge is toxic. Food should not be grown in "biosolids." Join the Food Rights Network.

The Mulch and Soil Council (MSC) is a trade association "for all producers of horticultural mulches, consumer potting soils and commercial growing media," according to its website.[1] The MSC is based in Manassas, Virginia. The Council was formerly the National Bark and Soil Producers Association. Kellogg Garden Products is a member,[2] and sewage sludge-based products such as Amend carry the Mulch and Soil Council seal.[3]

The MSC promotes the industries of commercially prepared composts and mulches; thus, these mulches, potting soils and growing media may contain sewage sludge from municipal or regional wastewater treatment plants disguised as "biosolids compost." Several members of the MSC's Board of Directors work for companies that promote the spreading of sewage sludge on food-growing lands, including Rick Mahoney of Garick, an environmental consulting company based in Cleveland, Ohio, that promotes "biosolids." Other board members also work for biosolids-promoting companies like SunGro Horticulture.

Mulch and Soil Council "Certification" and Heavy Metals Testing

The MSC promotes mulch and soil amendment manufacturers to participate in the Council's certification process, which combines lab analysis with greenhouse growth testing, the results of which prompt the MSC to form certain "acceptable levels" guidelines for metals, pH and salt solubility in mulches and other growing media.

However, the MSC allows for up to 10 ppm chromated copper arsenate, a compound of copper, chromium and arsenic that often appears in mulches due to treated wood--wood used in construction and resulting from demolition--being ground up into mulches. The MSC also does not test for other heavy metals that may be present in sewage sludge compost.[4]

Sewage sludge contains a host of contaminants, including pathogens, antibiotics, heavy metals like cadmium, silver, lead and mercury. Food should never be grown in toxic sludge.

Contact Info

10210 Leatherleaf Court, Manassas, VA 20111 | Tel: 703.257.0111 Fax: 703.257.0213

The MSC's Board of Directors contact information can be found here.

The MSC's Staff contact information can be found here.

Board of Directors

Suwannee River Mulch & Soil, Cross City, FL

Coastal Supply Co. Inc., Dagsboro, DE

Swanson Bark & Wood Products, Longview, WA

Hope Agri Products, Inc., Hope, AR

Black Gold Compost Co., Oxford, FL

Oldcastle Lawn & Garden, Inc., Atlanta, GA

Colorbiotics, Ames, IA

SunGro Horticulture Canada LTD., Bellevue, WA

Garick, Cleveland, OH

Conrad Fafard, Inc., Anderson, SC

Waupaca Northwoods Inc., Waupaca, WI

The Scotts Company, Marysville, OH

Mulch and Soil Council, Manassas, VA

Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, Washington, D.C.

North Carolina State University, Horticulture Department, Raleigh, NC

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. About the Mulch and Soil Council, 2010 Mulch and Soil Council Website Accessed April 18, 2011.
  2. Mulch and Soil Council, Members, trade association website, accessed November 29, 2011
  3. Mulch and Soil Council, Certified Landscape Soils, trade association website, accessed November 29, 2011
  4. MSC Protocol for Determining Chromated Copper Arsenate Levels in Horticultural Mulches, 2010 Mulch and Soil Council Website Accessed April 18, 2011.

External articles

THE QUALITY OF NYS AGRICULTURAL COMPOSTS: Final Report of the COMPOST MARKETING AND LABELING PROJECT. Prepared by THE CORNELL WASTE MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE. Ithaca, NY. Ellen Z. Harrison, Director. Prepared for THE NEW YORK STATE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: Albany, NY. July 2003. Report Accessed Via Cornell University Website, April 18, 2011.

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