Aussie SME leads charge on healthier pesticides

A fourth-generation family-owned Australian garden products supplier is taking on much larger competitors with the development of a pesticide free of the potentially toxic chemical glyphosate.

A fourth-generation family-owned Australian garden products supplier is taking on much larger competitors with the development of a pesticide free of the potentially toxic chemical glyphosate.

While Richgro is a well-known brand for garden enthusiasts, with its product range stocked in national retailers including Bunnings Warehouse, Mitre 10 and Big W, what is less well-known about the company is that it has been owned and operated by the same family for 100 years and that it competes against much larger players with a team of 75 employees.

The Beat-a-Weed weedkiller, which is manufactured in Western Australia, was developed by the company as an alternative to widely used pesticides using glyphosate as an active ingredient, which the company notes has been linked to cancer by the World Health Organisation.

“Councils across Australia are using glyphosate in gardens, street verges and parks and some people are concerned about this,” Peter Morrison, general manager at Richgro, said.   

According to Mr Morrison, the current registration and label for glyphosate is under review by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicine Authority – the national regulator for agricultural, home garden and veterinary chemicals. 

Increased awareness of the harmful effects of garden chemicals on both the environment as well as on humans and pets is leading manufacturers to research and develop new means of controlling weeds and pests without the use of toxic chemicals.

“Beat-a-Weed blends sodium chloride [common salt] and concentrated acetic acid [common vinegar] to work together to kill weeds. The salt dehydrates the plant, so the only moisture available is the vinegar, which then burns the weed and ultimately kills it,” he said.

“It's a natural, fast-acting formula that produces results within a matter of hours.”

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