Yara is dedicated to excellent performance in terms of environmental impact. We endeavor to promote industry leading standards, and we have more than achieved our ambitious goal of 45% reductions in GHG emissions.
Safeguarding the Environment
Reducing energy consumption and emissions are top priorities at Yara. Between 2004 and 2011 we reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our plants by half, reaching our 2013 target well ahead of time.
Manufacturing of fertilizers is a relatively clean but highly energy intensive process. In a global context, the greatest environmental impact is from GHGs emitted during ammonia and nitric acid production. In 2008 Yara unveiled its new cleaning technology – the N2O catalyst, which enables us to reduce nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas – from industrial plants by up to 90 percent. N2O is a powerful greenhouse gas.
In recent years, most of Yara’s ammonia plants have been technically upgraded to optimize energy efficiency, and energy-saving programs have been successfully implemented in several others. These efforts have paid off. Several of Yara’s ammonia plants now rank among the top 10 percent of the most efficient plants in the industry, and on average our plants perform better than the world industry average, as confirmed by global benchmarking carried out by the International Fertilizer Association (IFA).
Improving energy efficiency at our ammonia plants has the added benefit of reducing CO2 emissions. Emissions are also reduced by the fact that we capture part of the CO2 to produce a number of industrial products, such as dry ice and CO2 for the food and beverages industry.
Other, more regional, impacts from Yara’s production plants include nutrient-rich effluents and emission of acidifying gases (NOx and SOx). All such impact is monitored closely to ensure that allowable levels are not exceeded, and several steps have been taken to reduce emissions, for instance, operational improvements and investments in cleaning technologies.
Yara uses relatively little water, except for cooling purposes which involve little or no risk of contamination. In Northern Europe water is primarily drawn from surface water, i.e. lakes and rivers, whereas in other regions a combination of surface water and groundwater is used. Generally, no significant negative effects are expected with regards to water-withdrawal in the areas where Yara’s sites are located. Water is discharged into river systems or the sea after use, after cleaning to allowable levels.
Emissions of dust can have local impact on areas adjacent to Yara’s production sites. As with other emissions, it is important for Yara to operate in compliance with permit levels. The environmental performance of each plant is shown in unit reports where emissions are compared to permit levels.
Yara’s manufacturing processes do not produce a significant amount of solid waste. All hazardous waste is dealt with by waste management specialists. This includes use of catalysts, which are reclaimed.
Strict environmental standards
All Yara production sites are operated under strict national environmental standards and have established environmental management systems, developed in cooperation with industry associations and regulatory authorities, based on the ISO 14001 standard.
Internal performance data is routinely checked and reported to regulatory authorities. Data is also collected externally by AD Fiduciaire of Switzerland as part of Yara’s participation in the annual international benchmarking of emissions from fertilizer plants.
In addition to the commitment and responsibilities Yara has for its own operations, we are engaged in environmental efforts at several levels, including our strategic response Creating Impact, efforts for sustainable agriculture and global dialogues.