Morton Salt as a company is involved in many philanthropies and has several of its own impactful campaigns geared towards fighting food waste and making a general positive impact on the world. However, its traditional product, iodized salt, is a processed and less healthy product compared to its market counterparts. This salt is produced through energy-intensive and fossil fuel emitting processes and is packaged in a cardboard container whose recyclability potential is unclear. Overall, for the sake of the consumer’s health and carbon footprint, it would be better to purchase a different salt product or salt from a different company, one that is far more transparent about its product and practices.
This table salt classic is comprised of only 4 ingredients: salt, sugar, calcium silicate and potassium iodide. The potassium iodide and sugar are there to supplement consumers’ diets while the calcium silicate is a chemically-engineered anticaking agent that allows the salt to not clump. Calcium silicate comes with its own problems as it is known to cause adverse health effects, but the main issue with this salt is that it lacks natural healthy ingredients. Morton’s iodized salt is refined and processed such that all impurities are stripped, leaving only sodium chloride and synthetic additives. Compare this to other, more natural salts which contain key electrolytes and minerals and it is clear that there are better options available. Furthermore, unlike most sea salt companies which naturally harvest and dry salt water through a more sustainable process, Morton mostly relies on salt mining which produces a less natural, more processed and finely-grained salt.
The iodized salt is packaged in a cardboard cylinder with a metal cap for pouring. A benefit to the container is its lightness compared to small glass bottles whose weight causes transportation to be more expensive and have higher emissions as a result. Morton has also recently joined a How to Recycle Label Program, through which the company has begun printing recycling-instruction labels to put on its products. While this move is a step in the right direction, it places a large amount of responsibility on the consumer without the company clarifying its own recycling practices post-consumer. On the other hand, Morton recently launched a new bottle design for three of its salt products that is 100% recyclable and BPA free. This innovative packaging is notably more sustainable than the classic cardboard canister in terms of recyclability, and so if a consumer is looking to purchase salt from Morton’s, I would recommend buying this newer bottle instead.
Morton harvests its salt through a number of processes. At a few locations, it collects salt water and uses solar evaporation to isolate and then process salt crystals. This process is the least energy intensive and thus the most environmentally-friendly, although it requires a lot of time and a hot climate. Because of this, Morton is mostly limited to rock salt mining. Through this process, miners enter a shaft in the Earth’s surface and either remove salt through explosives or by dissolving it in water. The salt is then removed and processed above-ground into table salt ready to be packaged and delivered. The process in which salt is dissolved and the resulting brine is processed is called vacuum evaporation, and is notably the most energy intensive and expensive process for harvesting salt. Morton mentioned that the company was looking into wind power and packaging initiatives to reduce waste, but did not go into detail.
As a private company, Morton is not obligated to and indeed does not provide a public sustainability report. As a result, the specifics of the company’s emissions, waste, and other activities are largely a mystery to the consumer. Furthermore, many consumers of Morton do not realize that their purchases support a company that provides salt for various processes in the oil and gas industry including drilling, fracking and oil refining. Although Morton emphasizes a set of moral and sustainable company standards, by providing inputs for an industry that actively pollutes the planet, the company is inadvertently contributing to these emissions.
Similarly to sustainability, Morton provides little information on labor treatment, although it does emphasize safe working conditions in the mines with far less danger compared to other mines and a comfortable underground temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit for workers year round. At the corporate level, employee reviews are mixed and there is a general lack of diversity with about 65% employment for both white and male workers. Following the events of May 2020, the company pledged to improve diversity and conversations within the company, although only time will tell if these commitments are met.
Morton Salt has launched a number of programs in the past few years as part of its commitment to making a positive impact upon the world (an initiative it has named “Walk Her Walk”), including partnerships with orgs such as Thirst Project and Girl Forward as well as an educational campaign named “Erase Food Waste.” This multi-step program kicked off in 2017 with the intent to educate and move consumers to eliminate food waste. The company has supported food waste, Covid relief and BLM organizations, although for a 1.2 billion dollar revenue company, a larger impact than their current donations can be made.
Overall, whether the company is doing it for the sake of PR or to follow a set of moral standards, it is actively participating in activities that are making a positive impact upon the world. The company’s main issue is a lack of transparency and specificity. Providing this information, whether good or bad, to consumers would establish a foundation of trust which would give the company a larger degree of credibility.
https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Morton-Salt-Reviews-E13740_P6.htm?filter.iso3Language=eng :employee reviews
https://www.mortonsalt.com/article/morton-salt-essential-support-covid-19-pandemic/ :company covid response
https://www.mortonsalt.com/article/application-areas-in-oil-gas/ :oil and gas involvement
https://www.mortonsalt.com/home-product/morton-table-salt/ :product features
https://www.packworld.com/design/materials-containers/article/13377769/morton-salt-package-gets-sleek-ergonomic-new-design :new packaging