Moscow – PhosAgro has become the first company in the Russian mineral fertilizer industry to receive a certificate for compliance with the Ecological Union’s Vitality Leaf standard and the right to use the internationally recognised eco-label on its products.
JSC Apatit (PhosAgro main production subsidiary) has received a certificate for compliance with Standard STO-56171713-023-2020 “Mineral Fertilizers: Environmental Safety Requirements and Assessment Methods”, developed by the Ecological Union and recognised by the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN). More than 50 grades of fertilizers produced by PhosAgro will be marked with eco-labels. A list of all the grades can be found on the website of the Ecological Union.
Fertilizers that comply with the standard are a necessary tool for sustainable agriculture, as they are used for intensive farming and, as such, also protect the environment.
Particular attention is paid to critical points in the life cycle of products, including the stage at which mineral raw materials are extracted. That is precisely why, in addition to mineral fertilizer production facilities, experts from the Ecological Union’s certification body also inspected facilities involved in the extraction and enrichment of phosphate raw materials: the Kirovsk branch of Apatit. In particular, they noted that, at the extraction stage, a conscious effort is made at the mining and processing plant to use best available techniques for mineral extraction and enrichment and to constantly improve the working conditions for personnel.
While inspecting PhosAgro’s production facilities, experts from the Ecological Union noted that, as part of environmental protection measures, sensors that ensure the continuous monitoring of the ambient air have been installed at the boundary of the controlled-access area at the Volkhov branch of Apatit. Data from the sensors is transmitted in real time to a monitoring device in the city of Volkhov that is installed on the wall of the city administration and is publicly accessible.
PhosAgro fertilizers do not contain dangerous levels of heavy metals: cadmium, chromium, mercury, nickel and other harmful substances that can harm the environment and human health. This is in line with the requirements set out in the Vitality Leaf standard. The Ecological Union’s requirements for levels of heavy metals are similar to those of the European directive that will enter into force in 2022.
The sustainable use of resources plays an important role in certification. PhosAgro’s Cherepovets production site is almost 80% self-sufficient in terms of electricity generation, including through the recovery of exhaust steam in the production of sulphuric acid. PhosAgro is developing and fine-tuning programmes for the beneficial use of phosphogypsum, a by-product that is created during fertilizer production.
The use of fertilizers is associated not only with the safety of produce but also with the preservation of soil fertility. It was noted that both an agricultural calculator and the AgroResult mobile application are available for customers on PhosAgro’s website. They help customers select the optimum product and quantity thereof depending on the type of soil being cultivated, the climate zone and specific crops. This helps farmers avoid overspending on fertilizers.
The requirements of the standard also apply to the supply chain. To monitor suppliers of raw materials in respect of environmental safety issues, Apatit has developed a system for green procurement. Companies complete questionnaires with questions about compliance with environmental laws, the operation of their environmental management systems and energy conservation. Based on the results of the questionnaire, individual supplier ratings are created that enable PhosAgro to work with more responsible companies.
“The certification of the products made by a major player in Russian and global markets such as JSC Apatit, a production asset of PhosAgro Group, is an important precedent. This is a company that has a considerable impact on the market and consumers. By producing environmentally preferable products with proven characteristics, JSC Apatit is making a significant contribution to sustainable consumption and production in Russia. A responsible approach to managing soil fertility on an industrial scale will reduce the burden on the environment,” said Evgenia Kuznetsova, head of the Ecological Union’s certification department.
“We are grateful to the experts from the Ecological Union’s certification department for conducting a thorough analysis of our production processes, raw materials and finished products. The fact that our production sites were the first to be certified for compliance with the Vitality Leaf environmental standard is clear confirmation of the unique eco-efficiency of PhosAgro’s mineral fertilizers, as well as our commitment to sustainability, environmental conservation and the protection and restoration of soils. The eco-label will enable consumers to make an informed choice in favour of environmentally preferable products, the quality of which has been affirmed at the international level.
“Aspects of environmental safety and ESG principles are the main priorities of PhosAgro’s long-term development strategy. Certification in line with the Vitality Leaf standard and recognition of PhosAgro as the best company in terms of ESG in the global agrochemical sector by the leading independent agency Sustainalytics are a testament to the progress we have made in this area,” said PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev.
The Company has a management system in place, based on an assessment of the product life cycle, that applies to all production sites and covers all stages of a product’s life. This system was developed in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14040 and ISO 14044, and it operates as part of the Company’s environmental management system. In 2021, the environmental management system was certified at all of the Company’s production sites, and its full compliance with the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard was affirmed.