Worm Poop Bottler Sued by Scotts

July 03, 2007
Written by Greenhouse Canada
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has launched a law suit against TerraCycle Inc., claiming the startup company has copied its packaging and falsely advertised its plant food as superior.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has launched a law suit against TerraCycle Inc., claiming the startup company has copied its packaging and falsely advertised its plant food as superior.

The Miracle-Gro product line comes professionally labelled in new bottles while the TerraCycle product arrives on the shelves looking hastily shrink wrapped in previously used bottles gathered by fundraising schoolchildren. Both companies use green, the colour of plants, and the primary colour yellow, which is the basis for Scotts’ claim that TerraCycle is copying its packaging.

Scotts also objects to TerraCycles’ claim that its plant food is as good as, if not better, than its leading competitors. Scotts wants to see the analysis this is based on and TerraCycle has refused.

TerraCycle was founded three years ago by Montreal native, Tom Szaky, and is based in Trenton, N.J. The company feeds table scraps from the Princeton University dining halls to some one billion red worms that produce up to four tons of casings and feces daily. This waste is liquefied, bottled and sold at such chains as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot.

The company employs 33 people, and despite $1.5 million in sales last year, has yet to make a profit. Szaky hopes that will change this year with a projected $6 million in sales expected to rise to $15 million in 2008 with the launch of new fireplace logs made from garbage.

Scotts, comparatively, has $2.7 billion in annual sales and commands 51 per cent of the plant food market.

TerraCycle does not have the resources for a long and expensive court battle, so Szaky has taken his fight to the public and asked for their written and financial support. “This is more about the fact that we’re taking shelf space at Home Depot and Wal-Mart ... than customer confusion,” he stated.

For more information, visit our Current Links section at www.canadiangardencentre.ca.

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