Yara and sustainability

Environmental indicator points 2012

EN1 - Materials used (imported materials only)

Yara used approximately 7.7 million tonnes of imported materials in 2012. [1]

Main products are key fertilizer raw materials like ammonia, phosphate rock, potassium salts and dolomite, which represent the majority of the purchased volume.

EN2 - Recycled input materials

Mineral fertilizers are made from naturally occurring raw materials. The principal raw materials for fertilizer production are:

  • Air to provide nitrogen
  • Natural gas and oil to provide hydrogen and energy (for production of ammonia)
  • Rock phosphate (natural minerals, extracted from mined rock)
  • Potassium salts (natural minerals, extracted from mined rock)
  • Sulfur (for production of sulfuric acid used in the production of most phosphate fertilizers (mainly from desulfurization/cleaning of oil and gas)

Yara does not use recycled materials as sources for nitrogen, potash or phosphate. Small amounts of recycled materials are used as micronutrient salts.

EN3 - Direct energy consumption by energy source

Yara’s total energy consumption in production in 2012 was 263 million GJ, up 34 million GJ from the previous year. [2] The increase in energy consumption reflects the increase in ammonia and finished production volumes in 2012 and includes the new plant in Pilbara, Australia as well as the restarted Lifeco plant in Libya.

Energy consumption (2012 with Lifeco and Pilbara)

Energy consumption View graph

Almost 90% of the energy consumption is consumed in ammonia production.

Yara energy use is dominated by ammonia production

Yara energy use View graph

Natural gas is the main fuel used in Yara. The share of natural gas increased to 86% from 78% in 2011. Increase of ammonia production in natural gas based plants impacted this, as well as the investment to convert Yara’s largest European ammonia plant in Brunsbüttel, Germany, to use natural gas as feedstock.

Fuel sources in Yara

Fuel sources in Yara View graph

EN4 - Indirect energy consumption/export (import/export of electricity, steam, heat to/from the site)

In 2012, Yara used ca. 10.4 million GJ of energy as net import/export of electricity, steam and heat. On the other hand, Yara exported 2.74 million GJ of surplus heat, steam and electricity from the plants.

Primary fuels used to produce the purchased electricity was divided as follows:

Fossil fuel: 35%
Hydropower: 31%
Nuclear: 11%
Renewables: 10%
Others: 13%


Energy export from Yara plants: 2.74 million GJ of surplus electricity, heat and steam sold in 2012

Energy export from Yara View graph

EN5 - Energy saved due to conservation and energy efficiency improvements

Investments in ammonia plants are ongoing, including contributions to improve energy efficiency. Yara’s largest European ammonia plant in Brunsbüttel, Germany, has been converted to use natural gas as feedstock in addition to oil.

Certification to the ISO 16001 standard on energy management is ongoing. Energy consumption is assessed as a part of plants’ environmental management systems. Yara has nominated Energy Hunters at production units to define activities for reducing energy consumption. A number of projects have been initiated, some with governmental support, e.g. by the Norwegian public enterprise ENOVA in Yara Porsgrunn. 

EN6 - Initiatives to provide energy-efficient or renewable-energy-based products and services, and reductions in energy requirements as a result

Yara’s products are fertilizers and chemicals which are fully consumed in final use. Energy consumption in the use phase of products is not a relevant topic.

Initiatives to improve energy efficiency in Yara’s own production is described under indicator EN5. 

EN7 - Initiatives to produce energy-efficient or renewable energy based products

Yara is actively encouraging and helping the company’s suppliers and other business partners to raise their standards to protect the environment. As a part of each contract, a reference is made to the Yara Code of Conduct for business partners. In addition to expecting them to operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations addressing environmental protection, they are encouraged to develop and use environmentally friendly technologies, products and services. Yara is promoting the implementation of Product Stewardship programs within the fertilizer sector, thus encouraging raw material suppliers to continuously improve their environmental impacts.

EN8 - Total water withdrawal by source

In 2012, Yara's total water withdrawal was 616 million m3, of which 97% was surface waters, including water from wetlands, rivers, lakes and ocean. Groundwater represented only about 1% of Yara’s water withdrawal. Water is used in Yara’s production primarily for cooling purposes, and to a lesser extent, steam production. Thus most of the water withdrawn is returned back to the water course unpolluted.

EN9 - Water sources significantly affected by withdrawal of water

No water sources are significantly affected by Yara's withdrawal of water.

EN10 – Percentage and total volume of water recycled and reused

Water recycling at Yara plants corresponded to 12.5% of fresh water withdrawal (77 million m3).

EN11 - Environmental risks to adjacent land

Operations at all Yara’s sites are controlled with local environmental permits, and the plants are not considered to represent a risk to the local environment, except if a major accident should take place. All Yara sites are classified as industrial activities with potential major accident hazards – in EU so-called Seveso sites -  and are required to operate in accordance with strict procedures and management controls to prevent major process safety related accidents.

EN12 – Description of significant impacts of activities, products, and services on biodiversity in protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value outside protected areas

Yara site in Ambès, France, is located close to a designated Natura 2000 nature protection area. Yara sites in Ravenna and Ferrara, Italy, are located close to the Parco Regionale Delta del Po, which covers the southern part of the large Po Delta. This territory has rich fauna, including a great number of birds that find their ideal habitat here. This is also one of the most interesting areas in Emilia Romagna for cultural heritage. Yara’s sites are not considered to represent a risk to biodiversity or to nature’s condition in the protected areas.

EN13 – Habitats protected or restored

Yara prepares environmental impact assessment for any new major operation or extension. As a part of this, potential damage to natural habitats or biodiversity is evaluated, and prevention, management and remediation measures are considered. Such assessments have been recently made, for example, in Siilinjärvi, Finland for the enlargement of the apatite mine area, as well as other sites where start-up of mining activities is under consideration.

EN14 – Strategies, current actions and future plans for managing impacts on biodiversity

The most substantial effects are not the direct effects of Yara’s operations, but from the use of Yara’s main product, mineral fertilizers. If the fertilizers are not applied correctly they may negatively impact the environment, mainly through eutrophication, which in certain areas is a challenge, particularly for biodiversity in water.

The positive impact comes from the large increase of crop yields due to fertilizers. Increased yield makes it possible to supply market demand for food using less land, thus protecting forests from being cut down.

1. Eutrophication: Yara addresses this issue by sharing its knowledge with the farming community and other stakeholders, regularly giving training and advice to farmers at meetings in local markets.

Yara also invests in tools that help farmers make the right decision about fertilizer application. Yara’s tools help identify the correct type and amount of fertilizer. This includes soil analyses to identify which plant nutrients should be added to the soil to ensure optimal yields, along with the advanced N-Tester and N-Sensor decision-making tools.

To learn more about Yara's tools, please refer to Support tools. 

2. Land use: Yara's products and services contribute to improved agricultural productivity, avoiding deforestation and loss of biodiversity. This is the reasoning behind Yara's agreement with the WWF and a notion confirmed in a recent study from Stanford University investigating how intensification of agriculture has affected land use and hence emissions of greenhouse gases (Burney el al, Greenhouse gas mitigation by agricultural intensification, PNAS 2010).

The scenarios estimate that without the “Green Revolution,” land areas about the size of Russia would have been converted from forests, grassland or peat land into farmland in order to supply market demand for agricultural products. As a consequence, the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture would be 4.5 times higher than today.

Land use change is still a major challenge to biodiversity today. Apart from providing plant nutrition, Yara’s contributions to reduce land use change include research initiatives on sustainable intensification of agriculture and knowledge-sharing with farmers around the world in support of increased yields.

To learn more about Yara's participation in global initiatives and partnerships targeting improved agricultural productivity, please see Economic performance.

EN15 - Number of IUCN Red List species and national conservation list species with habitats in areas affected by operation, by level of extinction risk

To our present knowledge no locations or habitats affected by Yara’s operations include species on the IUCN Red List or on national conservation lists.

EN16 - Greenhouse gas emissions

Yara continues to reduce its carbon footprint. In 2012 Yara’s GHG emissions totaled 12.3 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents, including the Pilbara plant where we took over operational responsibility from 2012. Excluding the Pilbara plant, the total amount was 10.8 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents, 4% down from the previous year (11.2 million tonnes of CO2-eqv in 2011).

This result is achieved by the good performance of the N2O catalysts implemented at the nitric acid plants and improving energy efficiency. Yara reached its 2013 target for GHG emissions in 2010, well ahead of time, recording a 45% reduction between 2004 and 2010, after adjusting for plants acquired and closed within the period.

The achieved level was maintained in 2011-2012 with still further improvement, currently reaching the outstanding reduction of 54% in less than 10 years. The 54% reduction is calculated excluding Yara Pilbara, because the plant was not operational in 2004, so it has no 2004 baseline to compare current emissions. The next 5-year target has been set to reduce the GHG emissions from Yara’s European ammonia and nitric acid plants by a further 13% compared to 2010. Most of Yara’s nitric acid plants are covered by the EU ETS (Emission Trading System) or by the UN Joint Implementation mechanism. Yara’s technology for reducing nitrous oxide emissions has made this possible.

GHG emissions from Yara production (Pilbara not included) with Pilbara 12.3

GHG emissions View graph

EN17- Other relevant indirect greenhouse gas emissions by weight

The biggest indirect greenhouse gas emissions resulting from Yara’s operations are emissions from the production of  ammonia and other nitrogen-based raw materials purchased  by Yara to fill the gap between own production and raw material need. The greenhouse gas emissions generated in the production of purchased ammonia have been estimated to be approximately 3.3 million tonnes of CO2-equivalents, compared to the total of 12.3 million tonnes in Yara’s own production.

Amounts related to transport of products or raw materials and other organization activities (e.g. business travel, employee commuting, offices) are minor. According to IFA (The International Fertilizer Manufacturers’ Association), fertilizer distribution represents only about 3% of total emissions associated with the fertilizer life cycle.

Climate impact and mitigation potential of plant nutrition is explained in Yara’s Carbon Footprint brochure (PDF,1.1MB)

EN18 - Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reductions achieved

Yara's largest initiative to reduce GHG emissions thus far is the company's N2O catalyst technology, which removes 70 to 90 percent of the N2O emissions from nitric acid plants. This technology removes about 12 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents from Yara's plants each year. The N2O catalyst technology is also commercially available to other companies. Close to 60 plants have installed the catalyst so far. With Yara's and external plants combined, the catalyst technology removes approximately 30 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents annually.

Numerous optimizing activities are taking place at Yara plants to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions. A conversion project is ongoing in Brunsbüttel, Germany to enable use of natural gas in addition to oil, thus reducing their CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions significantly.  Investments in other ammonia plants are also contributing to improving energy efficiency. Yara has turned CO2 emissions into product in several plants, selling to various uses. Sluiskil plant in the Netherlands sells CO2 to greenhouses. Yara's feed phosphate plant in Kokkola, Finland, turned its CO2 emissions into product by delivering the gas to a company producing medical and technical gases.

EN19 - Emissions of ozone-depleting substances

No ozone-depleting substances are used in Yara production processes. At three sites minor amounts of approved substances are used in closed air-conditioning systems.

EN20 - Other emissions to air

Air emissions are measured, analyzed and registered according to national regulations. Yara uses the principles given in the Operational guidelines for the  ISO 14040 Life Cycle Assessment standards when assessing the potential impact of emissions into the environment. Thus the air emission data is combined to characterize acidifying releases to the air, given in tonnes of SO2-equivalent, by using the following generic acidification potential factors:

SO2 to air: 1
NOx to air: 0.7
NH3 to air: 1.88
F to air: 1.689

In 2012 the summarized acidification potential of Yara emissions continued to decrease slightly, totaling 16 062 tonnes of SO2-equivalent. While increasing the use of natural gas as boiler fuel reduced the share of SOx, increased ammonia production was reflected in the slightly higher ammonia emission.

A further 5-year target is set to reduce acidifying emissions with 17% compared to the level of 2011. In addition to optimal plant performance, investments to achieve this will be needed in installation and revamping of DeNOx units.


Emissions to air contributing to acidification 2012: 16 062 tonnes of SO2 equivalent - slightly down from 16 117 tonnes in 2011

Emissions to air View graph

Approximately 3700 tonnes of dust was emitted from Yara plants manufacturing, packaging and handling solid fertilizers in 2012.

A small amount (a total of 21 tonnes) of VOCs were emitted from two units, primary source being the ammonia plants

Yara’s plants do not emit persistent organic pollutants to the air.

EN21 - Emissions to water and water discharge

Emissions to water are measured, analyzed and registered according to national regulations. Yara uses the principles given in the Operational guidelines for the ISO 14040 Life Cycle Assessment standards when assessing the potential impact of emissions into the environment. The main impact into water caused by nitrogen and phosphorus emissions is eutrophication.  Thus the water and air emission data is combined to characterize their eutrophication potential, given in tonnes of PO4-equivalent by using the following factors:

N to water: 0.42
P to water: 3.06
NOx to air: 0.13
NH3 to air: 0.35

Yara’s emissions impacting eutrophication also continued to decrease slightly, totaling 3 848 tonnes of PO4-equivalent compared to 3 864 tonnes in 2011. Although the higher ammonia emission to air also increased the eutrophication impact, it was compensated by improvement in NOx emissions and N discharge to water. Relative emission per ton of finished product remained at last year’s level.

Emissions to water contributing to eutrophication Total 3848 tonnes of PO4 equivalents

Emissions contributing to euthrophication view graph

The total volume of water discharge was 479 million m3 in 2012. A big part of that is unpolluted cooling water returned back. Receiving water course for 42% of the volume is the sea, 42% for a river and 16% for a lake.

EN22 - Waste by type and disposal method

Yara’s operations generated about 75 000 tonnes of non-hazardous waste and 5 000 tonnes of hazardous waste in 2012. The majority (87%) of all the waste was recycled. The increased volume of non-hazardous waste was due to a clean-up action to remove old polluted soil at the Sluiskil site in the Netherlands during 2012.

Waste curve, without apatite mining related wastes, gypsum and iron oxide

Waste 2012 View graph

Waste by disposal method, without apatite mining related wastes and gypsum

Waste by disposal method View graph

Mining gangue, concentrator sand and gypsum generated in the apatite processing in the Siilinjärvi site in Finland are not included in the above figures. The total amount of these stored into the on-site piling areas during 2012 was approximately 18 million tonnes. An End Of Waste decision by the environmental authorities made it possible to sell all iron oxide generated in the sulfuric acid production and a significant amount of old piled iron oxide for raw material to iron and steel production.

Apatite mining related wastes, gypsum (from phosphoric acid production) and recycling of iron oxide from sulfuric acid production (million tonnes)

Apatite mining related wastes View chart

EN23 - Total number and volume of significant spills

A phosphorus leakage to sea from the old closed gypsum pile has been identified at the Yara Uusikaupunki site in Finland. The estimated amount of leakage is about 4 tonnes P/year compared to approximately 0.1 tonnes P/year from the treated waste waters, thus adding the eutrophication load in the sea area. Actions to repair the bund wall have been agreed with the environmental authorities and they are ongoing.

Two other sites had small spills which were reported to environmental authorities and improvement plans were agreed.

EN24  - Weight of transported, imported, exported, or treated waste deemed hazardous under the terms of the Basel Convention Annex I, II, III, and VIII, and percentage of transported waste shipped internationally

Small amounts of hazardous wastes were transported to and from a few Yara plants for recovery and recycling in other countries. Yara Uusikaupunki in Finland imported  510 tonnes of zinc liquid for recovery from Sweden. Yara Ambès, France,  and Yara Tertre, Belgium,  exported a few kilograms of various hazardous wastes for recovery.

EN25 - Identity, size, protected status and biodiversity value of water bodies and related habitats significantly affected by the reporting organization’s discharges of water and runoff

Operations at Yara sites are controlled with local environmental permits, and the plants are not considered to represent a risk to the local environment.
A Yara plant in Rostock, Germany, discharges its waste water to a small river, the Mühlbach. Actions are ongoing with the local authorities to clarify the water status of the river by detailed data sampling,  and to protect and enhance the water quality with the aim of achieving good status. As a first step, Yara Rostock contributes to this by increasing the basin capacity for rainwater prior to biological treatment to reduce nitrogen  emissions to the river. 

EN26 - Initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts of products and services and extent of impact mitigation

Yara is a key player in promoting and facilitating sustainable agriculture. As the world’s leading producer of mineral fertilizers, Yara has developed extensive agronomic knowledge that it shares with farmers. Yara has invested heavily in advisory systems to ensure accurate matching of nutrient supply and crop need to meet good agricultural practice. The concept of sustainable agriculture aims at preserving biodiversity and maintaining soil fertility and water purity. It also contributes to the conservation and improvement of the soil. Yara constantly works to develop new and improved products and practices. Recent examples of those are available at the Key Environmental Initiatives part of the Impact report.

- An array of fertilizing management tools such as the N-Sensor™ and the N-Tester™, as well as software applications such as the Internet-based Megalab™, assist farmers in keeping profitability up and environmental impact down. Optimizing N efficiency not only reduces climate and other environmental impact, it is also a key factor in maintaining and even increasing farm productivity and profitability. A field study conducted in Germany demonstrated that using the N-Sensor increased yields by 6% while reducing N fertilizer use by 12%. This increase in N efficiency reduces the carbon footprint by 10-30%.

- Expert advice on a wide range of crop-specific nutrients, alongside a comprehensive range of fertilizers to match the advice, helps improve the efficiency of land use, fertilizer use and farm profitability. For more information, see Crop Nutrition.

- Yara is the world's largest producer of AdBlue, known as Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in North America or ARLA32 in Brazil - a urea based product needed to turn NOx from diesel-powered vehicles into harmless water vapor and nitrogen.
Yara's high purity urea solution is commercialized under the Air1 brand. NOx reductions of over 80 percent are achieved and overall fuel efficiency improves by about five percent compared to competing technologies. On top of that, vehicles that use less fuel emit less CO2. Yara is selling the Air1 product on all five continents.

- Yara is sponsoring The Sahara Forest Project, and together with partners a pilot plant in Qatar was opened in 2012 to demonstrate the potential of green technology using seawater and solar energy in the areas of horticulture, freshwater generation, energy production and algae production.

By combining different existing technologies into one integrated system The Sahara Forest Project utilizes sunlight, deserts and seawater to produce food, water and energy. The pilot project consists of seawater-based greenhouses, concentrated solar power (CSP) for heat & electricity, evaporative hedges and ponds for reducing brine to dry salts, algae cultivation facilities, vegetative outdoor areas and halophyte cultivation units. This pilot scale environmental project is expected to pave the way for future larger scale research and commercial platform.

EN27 - Products sold and their packaging materials that are reclaimed

Yara's product packaging is reclaimed based on availability of local programs.

Collection and recycling of fertilizer bags or big bags from farmers is in place, among others, in France (ADIVALOR),  Germany (RIGK and Noventiz, all bags Yara brings into the German market are covered by these recycling schemes), Norway (Grønt Punkt AS) and Finland (in collaboration with Finland’s 4H-organization).

Yara New Zealand is a Foundation member of Agrecovery, supporting their stewardship program by providing farmers with nationwide recycling. Currently YaraVita plastic drums, including 10L, 210L and 1000L sizes, are collected for the recycling program. Packaging eligibility for such schemes is denoted by the pack carrying the scheme's logo, and this requires that the product manufacturer is an approved member of the scheme.

A new innovation at Pocklington, UK is improving Yara's recycling efficiency. The old packaging consisted of three materials - a polyethylene bottle, a foil seal and a paper label - all or which had to be separated prior to recycling. The new packs consist of 100 percent plastic - bottles, seals and labels - reducing both processing time and recycling costs.

Yara products are fertilizers and chemicals which are fully consumed during final use. Disposal or reuse of the products is not applicable. For cases of possible quality deterioration of the product during customer’s storage and handling (e.g. if the fertilizer gets wet and lumpy if wrongly stored), Yara gives guidance and support to customers on how to treat the product.

EN28 - Monetary value of significant fines and total number of non-monetary sanctions for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations

Eight Yara sites reported incidents of short-term permit breaches to local authorities in 2012. Their root causes have been investigated and corrective actions are ongoing to ensure further conformity. In Yara Montoir, France, a 5-year action plan has been initiated to reach compliance with water discharge regulations and revised fertilizer storage and traceability regulations. In 2012 the main actions were to improve treatment of steam, condensates and cooling water to decrease nutrient discharges to water courses.

Yara Porsgrunn, Norway, was fined NOK 2.5 million in 2012 due to a 2010 release of 354 tonnes of N fertilizers into the sea.

EN29 - Significant environmental impacts of transporting products and other goods and materials used for the organization’s operations and transporting members of the workforce

In 2012 there were no significant incidents posing harmful environmental impact related to transporting products or other goods and materials used in Yara’s operations. Yara has analyzed the environmental impacts of transport (energy consumption, transport related emissions) as a part of products’ life cycle assessment. Compared to the impacts of production, these are minor.


[1] Yara uses SI units in reporting. Tonnes refers to metric tons.


[2] 2011 figure has been corrected from 219 to 229 million GJ due to an error in one unit’s data.

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