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Our continuous commitment to reporting on Valagro's sustainability
For 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 shown below refer to Valagro Spa's environmental, economic and corporate results.
As indicated in the previous versions of the Sustainability Report, we need to consider the relationship between these indicators and the value of production in order to correctly interpret the indicators relating to the environmental impact of Valagro SpA's activities.
In the transition from 2017 to the next two-year period, the latter recorded a decrease mainly due to operation of the production plants located abroad, in Brazil, India and Norway. Given that the goal pursued by Valagro is to improve the transparency and accessibility of information relating to its environmental, economic and social impact, the company's commitment is to integrate monitoring of the performance of sustainability of its production branches overseas. As for the indicators of Valagro SpA, it should be noted that a more detailed analysis is available in the EMAS – Eco-Management and Audit Scheme declaration available on the Valagro website on the Certifications page.
Compared with the quantity of waste produced – which includes all the waste fractions generated at the Atessa plant – it is noted that in relation to the increase in production in the two-year period 2018 and 2019, the trend of the indicator is rather stable. In order to further contain the production of waste, a rationalisation of purchases is under way, in order to select suppliers able to ensure packaging-free supplies (in silos, tanks, or with packaging that can be made totally reusable).
As for emissions into the atmosphere, in 2019 the total quantities of metals emitted remained stable compared with previous years, although there was a variation in the mix of products produced (increase in the productivity of the chelate plant) which in the past would have led to an increase in emission levels. This was avoided by improving emission filtration systems. In fact, Valagro pursues the goal of continuously improving the bag filters of plants. Triboelectric detectors were installed at all the chimneys where dust is present to improve checks on any leaks from the filtering bags. The use of selected raw materials and the continuous search for higher environmental performance aim to reduce emissions into the atmosphere as much as possible. In this case, the emission of metals represents a significant target that the company will also try to reduce in the future.
VOS - Volatile organic substances (II - III - IV)
From the point of view of the emissions of volatile organic substances (phenol, isobutyl alcohol and isobutyl acetate), it is important to note that their value is influenced by the production mix. In 2019 it can be noted that while VOS in class III and IV recorded a decrease, those in class II recorded a slight increase, due to an increase in the production of some formulations that contain VOS II.
In any case, the multi-year downward trend is confirmed and it is believed that also in the next few years it will be possible to reach even lower thresholds of these values.
Thermal energy represents one of the main critical factors within company production processes. In 2019 there was an increase in the thermal energy indicator (TOE/Ton PF) and this is due to a shift in the production mix in favour of more energy-intensive products. In any case, the use of a co-generator within the production process has made it possible to increase the efficiency of processes in which the thermal sources are present. The growing value is mainly due to the fact that almost 50% of the electricity used in the plants is produced through cogeneration and this consequently leads to an increase in thermal consumption.
Energy and CO₂ Emissions
Currently the cogeneration plant represents a fundamental pillar for optimisation of Valagro SpA's energy consumption: its installation has made it possible to increase the productivity of the plants, especially during the drying phase, exploiting the capacity to treat all the semi-finished products coming from the reactors, and thus ensuring high production standards. In addition to the thermal capacity, the plant ensures approximately 400 KW of electrical power: this has made it possible to reduce the share of electricity purchased from the grid and to obtain an overall process efficiency (electrical and thermal) of over 85%.
Valagro believes that water is an indispensable and precious primary good. In 2019 there was an increase in water withdrawals, mainly due to the increase in the production of products in liquid form (in particular biostimulants), and also to the use of water for the cleaning of production lines. which re-enters circulation in these products.
In 2019 Valagro launched its innovative biostimulant Talete. Born from the exclusive GeaPower technologicy platform to increase Crop Water Productivity, Talete promotes sustainable production in conditions of adequate water availability and in conditions of permanent or temporary scarcity.
“Talete concretely represents Valagro's mission to create a sustainable future for people and nature; thanks to Talete, Valagro is able to provide a viable solution to farmers around the world to get the most out of their crops by optimising the use of an increasingly precious resource, water. To meet the growing needs of the world population we must radically change the way in which water is used, managed and shared, especially in agriculture, which alone is responsible for 70% of global freshwater consumption. In line with our mission, and in response to the appeal of international organisations such as FAO on creating innovative technical means for sustainable food production, we have put the best of our research and innovation, the result of the GeaPower technology platform, at the service of agriculture, with the aim of making it increasingly productive and at the same time increasingly efficient" (CEO G. Natale, 4th World Congress on the Use of Biostimulants in Agriculture, Barcelona).
Solutions based on microorganisms
For Valagro, 2019 marked the beginning of the adventure with microbial formulations. Indeed, in May 2019, Valagro BioSciences (the Indian branch of the group) promoted a tour that crossed 6 Indian states - Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra - to present a new line of innovative solutions based on microorganisms that include biostimulants, biofertilisers and the first Valagro branded biocontrol product for the Indian market. The distinctive feature of this new line of microorganism-based products can be summarised with the word sustainability. This goal is mainly supported by improvement in the efficiency of use of nutrients, because the microorganisms underlying these innovative solutions are indeed capable of releasing precious, otherwise unavailable, nutrients into the soil, and can increase the ability of crops to assimilate water and nutrition.
In 2019, Valagro formalised construction of the Orangeburg plant, in the United States, with a groundbreaking ceremony, which was attended by members of the local community, esteemed guests, state representatives, as well as members of federal government. Consistent with Valagro’s commitment to innovation, the plant will introduce cutting-edge technologies for the production of plant biostimulants and chelated micronutrients in the United States. The opening of the production site will also involve the creation of nearly 50 new advanced manufacturing jobs. Thanks to the Orangeburg production plant, Valagro will be able to better meet current and future American demand for innovative sustainable agriculture solutions, better serve North American customers, and advance the use of biological products in agriculture.
Among the main interventions completed in 2019 at the Pashamylaram plant, it is worth noting biological facility revamp, done with fully automized mechanization, which can use to produce the world class microbial cultures with fully controlled environment by SCADA system. Highlights of the project have been the fermentation unit modernization, as well as the new lyophilization unit, a high efficiency technology for better preserve the microbial vitality and ensure an outstanding quality to pour customer. biological facility revamp, done with fully automized mechanization, which can use to produce the world class microbial cultures with fully controlled environment by SCADA system. Highlights of the project have been the fermentation unit modernization, as well as the new lyophilization unit, a high efficiency technology for better preserve the microbial vitality and ensure an outstanding quality to pour customer.
This technology is used to produce microbial-based products useful to control the soil deterioration, convert insoluble nutrients to soluble forms, improve the utilization of the same and promote overall plant development.
Further interventions concerned:
Main interventions carried out in 2019 at the Kristiansund site:
In 2019 the following interventions were completed at the Pirassununga plant:
Best Performance Award 2019
In 2019 Valagro was awarded the Best Performance Award 2019, in the “Best Performer of the Year” category. Together with JP Morgan Private Bank, PwC, Refinitiv and Gruppo 24 ORE, the SDA Bocconi School of Management is among the promoters of this initiative. Established three years ago, it aims to promote the best Italian companies that stand out for their excellence in sustainable development understood in a broad sense, i.e. the ability to do business while ensuring corporate continuity with respect for the human and environmental aspect (Green & Social), innovation (Innovation & Technology) and economic management (Value Added). The prize awarded to Valagro in the "Best Performer of the Year" category recognises the company's commitment to making the issue of sustainability central within everyday life, and to investing in human capital to foster the potential of each person with respect to their skills, competences and needs.
Welfare & Wellbeing
There are many initiatives that Valagro has taken for making the Company a ‘good place to work’. The important renewing of buildings, the internal canteen, the new spaces for facilitating relax and business meetings: all of them have been done with a special attention in creating an great and pleasant environment, choosing sustainable materials and with people wellbeing at heart. Other initiatives, in terms of work flexibility and agile working have been started and Valagro will continue to boost them, focusing on results and consistently with one of its core value: people trust. In 2019, the welfare package has been enriched of an initiative for supporting the family wellbeing of employees and their kids: a very funny and successful summer camp!
Valagro Academy is a programme dedicated to Valagro customers, who have always been at the centre of company activities. Founded in 2016, Valagro Academy is designed to promote Valagro's expertise in the field of crop nutrition and biostimulants, and to illustrate how Valagro solutions can improve crop performance for the benefit of efficiency and sustainability in agriculture. Coordinated by the Marketing team and Market Development Managers, Valagro Academy provides highly qualified assistance and training sessions to the sales team of Valagro customers in order to share information and updates on the world of plant nutrition and biostimulants, together with specific sessions on products, local needs and the most effective solutions to be applied in the field.
Ortiamo is the educational project promoted by Valagro in the two-year period 2018-2019 to raise awareness among young people of the value of sustainability in agriculture. The project involved almost 400 elementary school students in the provinces of Chieti and Pescara (Italy), with the aim of promoting the role of sustainable agriculture in ensuring increasing quality and efficiency in agricultural production as the basis of a healthy and safe diet. This educational project was based on the active involvement of children, who closely observed the life cycle of a salad plant which they took care of until the moment of harvesting. The participation of parents and the wider community was made possible by the creation of a dedicated website, and also in 2019 by an online web series on the Ortiamo.net website which, in line with the aims of the project, saw children become protagonists in narrating their own experience.