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Our continuous commitment to reporting on Valagro's sustainability
For around 40 years, Valagro has been helping farmers get the best out of their production by optimising the use of resources and production inputs with one goal: to create a sustainable future for people and nature. This objective can only be achieved with a basic coherence that characterises not only the solutions offered to the global market, but also the production processes and corporate culture.
The Social and Environmental Report (or Sustainability Report) is a useful tool that helps us describe, year after year, our consistent and constant commitment to sustainability. It is an act of responsibility towards the wider community we operate in, and with which we hope to cultivate a culture that is ever more respectful of the environment and attentive to the community's needs.
The data illustrated below refers to Valagro SpA's environmental, economic and social results.
As indicated in the previous versions of the Social and Environmental Report, to correctly interpret the indicators relating to the environmental impact of Valagro SpA's activities we need to consider the relationship between these indicators and the value of production.
While the three-year period 2015 – 2017 recorded a significant increase in production, in 2018 there was a decrease in production due to stock balancing. However, as illustrated below in the Report, the company has undertaken numerous initiatives to continue improving the environmental impact indicators. A more detailed analysis is available in the EMAS declaration - Eco - Management and Audit Scheme available on the Valagro website on the Certifications page.
Compared to the quantity of waste produced – which includes all the waste generated at the Atessa plant – there was an increase in this indicator in 2018 with respect to the reduction in production volumes.
As reported in the EMAS Declaration, 539.06 tonnes of total waste were non-hazardous waste. The increase in this waste was due to an agreement with two raw material suppliers, which in 2018 delivered the materials in big bags on wooden pallets, while in the past the wooden support was not present. The increase in hazardous waste was due instead to extraordinary cleaning of tunnels and tanks for the liquid and chelate plants, along with peak production at the liquid plant, which led to an increase in the resulting sludge.
As for the abatement of emissions into the atmosphere, in 2018 the quantities of metals emitted per tonne of production decreased constantly, thanks to continuous improvements to the plants' bag filters which have been carried out over the years. Triboelectric detectors were installed at all the chimneys where dust is present, to improve checks on any leaks from the filtering sleeves. Furthermore, the quantities of metals emitted are considerably lower than the authorised values: in all the checks carried out by an external laboratory, the authorised limits were never exceeded.
VOS – Volatile organic substances (II – III – IV)
Regarding emissions of volatile organic substances (phenol, isobutyl alcohol and isobutyl acetate), it is important to note that the value for these substances is influenced by the Production Mix.
What is particularly clear in 2018 is the improvement of Classes II and IV compared with the previous year.
However, even for Class III substances the trend is positive because, despite the slight increase in this value, there is an overall decrease in VOS III starting from 2015-16, due to the supply of a purer raw material.
For all classes, the values are always well below the values authorised by law.
In the chemical industry, heat is an indicator of the technological level of production plants. A reduction in heat consumption indicates the overall effort of the entire company to create "low carbon products", i.e. products with sustainable raw materials as a result of high research activity and which can guarantee results with positive effects on the external environment.
In 2018 there was an increase in the thermal energy used in the company; this is due to two main factors, the start-up of the cogeneration plant and its continuous operation, and the production during the entire year of a set of particularly energy-intensive products (from a thermal point of view).
However, as illustrated below in this report, it must be considered that the cogeneration plant, in addition to heat, has allowed us to produce about 50% of the electricity then used in the plants without any environmental impact ("carbon free").
In line with its close attention to the use and sustainable management of resources in agriculture, Valagro considers water an essential asset and has always been committed to limiting waste in production processes.
Although 2018 recorded a slight increase (+1%) compared with the previous year, there was a positive trend in water withdrawal throughout the three-year period. Following a water rationalisation objective, between 2015 and 2018 discharges were zeroed, in line with objective 5 of the QEHS improvement programme 2018-2021 (found within the EMAS). Parameter G4 EN 22 shows the quantities of rainwater sent for purification and the relative indicator. The amount of rainwater sent for purification is decreasing, since most is reused in production. In 2017 and 2018, all the rainwater was reused.
Thanks to the cogeneration plant, Valagro SPA's production facilities use both electricity and heat to produce many key products. The installation of two gas turbines has made it possible, on one hand, to produce electricity used throughout the plant and recover heat from exhaust gases to use it directly in production plants. This has made it possible to improve energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions by around 530 tonnes in 2018 (4,370) compared with 2017 (4,900).
The project to revamp the hydrosoluble plant at the Indian site in Pashamylaram began in May 2017 with the process design phase, and ended in March 2018 with the start-up of the plant and the first production of NPK (Master line). The project’s main interventions, which involved restoring and modernising an existing production line, were:
The line has a capacity of 6000 t/year, and is divided into 3 main sections: mixing, packaging and dust suppression.
The installation of the dust suppression system has allowed a better work environment inside the shed, free from micro-dust, with a significant positive impact for line workers and the external environment.
The project to revamping the algae extraction plant in Norway, at the Kristiansund site, began in 2018.
Two venturi scrubbers were installed to eliminate odours and dust from the extraction and drying sections.
An initial environmental impact study was carried out: the environmental consulting company undertook odour measurements in Algea (Kristiansund), performed calculations for the dispersions, and finally created a map of odours in the surrounding area.
The dispersion calculations show that since the scrubbers were installed, the odours are lower than the authorised limit of 2 ou E/m3.
As regards the Bronnoysund site, work has been done to reduce the external impact of the noise from the manufacturing processes. Specifically, mobile sound-absorbing panels have been installed to reduce the noise from the mill area, where the seaweed is ground; furthermore, in the first treatment area for freshly harvested seaweed, where stones and shells are removed, a fan was moved from outside to inside the shed. The fan was then suitably insulated to reduce the impact on occupational safety.
In 2018, the installation of the new acetic acid dosing line with a dedicated pump was completed, improving the aspects of process safety related to handling this raw material.
The study, which uses the Life Cycle Assessment methodology, focused on all phases of the life cycle, starting from the use of raw materials, through production processes and product packaging, to the company gates. In the coming years, we also expect to implement studies into the impact of using products in the field. In this way, we will be able to obtain a complete analysis of the product life cycle that will let the company make improvements to the various phases analysed.
Among the work already carried out to limit products’ environmental impact, it is particularly worth mentioning the decision to continue replacing TRIPLEX packaging with DUPLEX flexible packaging, which has led to a related reduction in costs and environmental impact.
Our Group is constantly focused on keeping the organisation effective and able to get closer to the customer.
With this spirit and based on Corporate goals, in 2018 Valagro decided to divide the Global Research and Development area into Global Research and Global Field Development. In this way our Global Research Department can allow greater focus on specific research matters that strengthen our GeaPower technology. Moreover, the contribution of new technologies and new skills will speed up the offer and the effectiveness of new products.
Learning to learn is the way to excellence. And excellence is one of Valagro's core values in its future path to greater success. Valagro is committed to becoming a 'learning organisation' through constant and pervasive learning. That’s why in 2018 the Company decided to invest in people, providing tools for employees to improve their professional and managerial skills. The Valagro Corporate University was launched to guide and support people's growth by enabling continual, digital tech and multi-modal learning, requiring personal responsibility and engagement to make learning part of the job. The new initiative initially involved the Atessa Headquarters and the Brazilian, US and Indian subsidiaries.
It was India that welcomed Matteo for his brief stay provided by the Short Assignment initiative; among other initiatives, this was in addition to the True day experience, involving 2 days shadowing Andrea Sodi, Area Sales Manager Italy.
Eswar is originally from India. Thanks to the Graduate Talent Programme, he was able to make a valuable contribution to the Special company projects initiative by taking part in some of Valagro's strategic projects in Norway, where he went for a short time, and Valagro BioSciences in India, which was the subject of his degree thesis. In addition, Eswar spent a few days in Global Research with the team of Juan Fernando Mejia, Microbial Science Coordinator, as part of the True day experience initiative.
.. and their well-being
Featured projects: the company canteen
In the panorama of initiatives implemented during 2018, the project to create the new company canteen is particularly noteworthy. It aimed to achieve the dual objective of improving employees' well-being – with a greater investment in the quality of food, obtained at zero miles – and at the same time reducing the impact of meals, thanks to the progressive elimination of disposable tableware and plastic water bottles.