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Company: ServiceMaster
Subject: Safer Pesticides for Lawn Care
Year: 2007
Sector: Pesticides
Lead Filer: Green Century Capital Management
Outcome: Company went private; no vote

Whereas:

  • Our Company is built on a strong ethical foundation, beginning with the Company’s Objectives: Honor God in All We Do; Excel with Customers; Help People Develop; Grow Profitably;
  • These objectives should be reflected in Company policies that show reverence for life, that honor the natural world, and that take great care to bring no harm to any person, including our customers and our employees.

Whereas:

  • The use of synthetic pesticides that are potentially harmful to people, animals, and the environment is contrary to these principles and ultimately harmful to our business;
  • One analysis of a standard TruGreen Chemlawn customer receipt showed that of the 32 pesticides available for use by its residential lawncare service: 17 included possible carcinogens, 9 included known or suspected reproductive toxicants, and 13 included chemicals banned or restricted for use by other countries (http://toxicsaction.org);
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals such as these may be particularly harmful to pregnant women, infants, children, and the elderly.

Whereas:

  • The use of pesticides is an increasing matter of concern among the American public. Increasing numbers of states and localities in the U.S. are enacting restrictions on use of pesticides;
  • Seventy municipalities in Canada have banned the use of lawncare pesticides;
  • TruGreen Chemlawn has been targeted for a consumer boycott in the United States because of its use of pesticides.

Whereas:

  • TruGreen Chemlawn offers Organic and Natural lawncare services in some parts of the United States;
  • The TruGreen Chemlawn website states, "We want our customers to have complete information about the products being used, their purpose, and any special precautions you need to consider, because we understand that you want to know," and yet the website does not list the pesticides used or provide Material Safety Data Sheets;
  • ServiceMaster’s Environmental Stewardship Principles state “We will commit human and financial resources to carrying out policies, procedures, and programs which enable us to meet our environmental stewardship responsibilities.”

RESOLVED: that the ServiceMaster board shall prepare a report, at reasonable expense and omitting proprietary information, on the feasibility and implications of a policy to discontinue the use of synthetic pesticides at TruGreen Chemlawn, instead substituting natural and non-toxic lawncare services. The report shall discuss the impact of such a policy on our customers and our employees, and shall be available by November 1, 2007.

Supporting Statement:

Wal-Mart Stores recently announced a new chemicals policy "to drive the development of more sustainable products for mother, child and the environment." The first action taken under this policy included asking pesticide manufacturers to discontinue the use of two insecticides which may have harmful effects.

Wal-Mart's new policy states, "When we suspect that an ingredient in a product or the product itself is capable of causing harm to human health and the environment, we will act to find better alternatives... In most cases our principles will require actions beyond compliance with government regulations." (http://www.walmartfacts.com/articles/4556.aspx)

We believe that Wal-Mart's new policy provides a positive model for ServiceMaster to consider for its TruGreen Chemlawn business.


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