Crop Nutrition

Yara introduces sustainable packaging

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28 November 2023, Brazil: Yara is reducing its environmental impact and is introducing packaging made with at least 30 percent recycled plastic all over Europe during 2023. The company aims to reduce the carbon footprint of its packaging materials by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 2021.

Plastic consumption has quadrupled over the past 30 years and plastic production has doubled from 2000 to 2019, reaching 460 million tonnes. Plastic not only pollutes the environment but also amplifies climate change by contributing to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from production to waste management. In agriculture, widespread and long-term use of plastic, coupled with lack of systematic collection and sustainable management, leads to plastic accumulation in soils and aquatic environments.

“Plastic pollution constitutes a planetary crisis demanding change in our approach to secure a sustainable future. To deliver on Yara’s ambition of growing a nature-positive food future, we are committed to continuously reducing our climate impact as well as the environmental footprint from the use of our products. That includes reducing the environmental impact of our plastic packaging materials by using recycled plastic, reducing plastic packaging, ensuring packaging is recyclable and working with other players in the value chain to collect and recycle material. Yara’s sustainable packaging roll out is a promising start to ensure that our packaging does not cause harm to nature,” says Bernhard Stormyr, VP Sustainability Governance at Yara International.

In agriculture, plastic is used for various purposes, such as protected cultivation films, nets, piping, irrigation, drainage, and packaging materials. While they can increase productivity and efficiency in all agricultural sectors and help minimize food loss and waste, plastics are a major source of contamination.

“The growing challenges of hunger, soil degradation, climate change, and supply chain disruptions demand immediate action from all of us. At Yara, we recognize that we need to take part in it. Across industries, there is an urgent need to better monitor the quantities of plastic products used that leak into the environment from agriculture. That is why we are taking measures in Europe and beyond to have all packaging recyclable by 2030, whilst at the same time securing the safety and quality of our product,” says Stormyr.

Here are Yara’s initiatives:

1. Using recycled plastic where possible

We strive to maximize the use of recycled plastic in our packaging materials, and several projects show promising results:

  • Big and small bags containing at least 30 percent recycled plastic are being rolled out all over Europe during 2023. If all Yara’s bags in Europe are replaced with these bags, it is estimated that we would reduce the amount of virgin plastic we use by around 3,000 tons per year and avoid some 6,000 tons of CO2e.
  • In Brazil, Yara has signed an agreement with a supplier to jointly develop a revolutionary new type of big bag. These new bags will be made from 100 percent recycled PET, and therefore have a substantially reduced impact on the environment, practically halving greenhouse gas emissions compared with the conventional bags, while maintaining the same technical properties. This project aims to replace around 2,000 tons of virgin plastic and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 4,000 tons each year. The main benefit of PET compared to other plastics currently used for the production of big bags is that it can be recycled endlessly without losing its strength and quality.
  • We are also working actively to launch similar initiatives in other markets around the world, e.g., in South Africa our big bag liners are now made with recycled plastic.

2. Ensuring packaging is designed for recycling

Our packaging materials are designed for recyclability and for avoiding excessive material use, and we continue to work on further improvements. Almost all the plastic that is used in our packaging can be recycled, provided that local collection and recycling schemes are available. The limited packaging materials that cannot yet be recycled will be re-designed for recyclability where possible.

3. Reducing the amount of plastic packaging material

We are also working on reducing the amount of plastic used per bag by optimizing specifications without compromising quality or safety, for instance by using thinner material. During the last few years, we have reduced plastic use by close to a thousand tons due to such optimizations in various markets around the world.

  • In Thailand, Yara developed a new, innovative fertilizer packaging material that drastically reduces the use of plastic. The special fabric called Light and Strong results in a fertilizer bag that is overall lighter, stronger, more durable and reusable. Current implementation of the solution saves around 150 tons of virgin plastic per year, with the potential to increase this by up to about 800 tons per year in the near future.
  • In India we reduced the thickness of the material for our 45 kg urea bags. Reducing the amount of plastic used per bag by a few grams cuts total plastic use for these bags by around 200 tons per year.
  • In our West African markets, optimizing bag specifications reduces our plastic use by more than 500 tons per year.

4. Working with other players in the value chain on collection and recycling schemes

As we do not produce or collect plastic packaging ourselves, we engage with various stakeholders to try to influence the way our plastic packaging is produced and the way it is handled after use. As with all complex value chains, one company cannot solve these challenges alone. We are using our purchasing power and strong supplier relationships to drive change in the areas where it is needed.

  • We are engaged with, and contribute to, collection and recycling schemes for agricultural plastics and our product packaging materials, including establishing such schemes together with others.
  • In the above-mentioned PET plastic project in Brazil, collecting the bags from customers to enable reuse of the plastic material is included in the project.

Also Read: CO2-free hydrogen: BASF receives funding approval for 54-megawatt water electrolysis plant

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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