Our people and programs are enhancing environmental stewardship when it comes to plastics

Published: Apr 19, 2024

Footprint reduction is the main pillar of our Environmental Management Strategy, and across Nutrien, teams have been working to reduce our environmental footprint through various programs.

Environmental Improvement Recognition Program

In our Nitrogen and Phosphate business unit, the Environmental Improvement Recognition Program (EIRP) was launched in 2022 and is gaining momentum – going from nine submissions in 2022 to 38 submissions in 2023. Our Feed site in Marseilles, Illinois received EIRP awards for the following plastic reduction projects.

The site’s long-time service provider of boiler chemicals had been supplying them in 55-gallon plastic drums. Annually, the site would have to dispose of approximately 12 of these drums as waste. In 2023, the team switched to a new provider, which transfers chemicals directly into holding tanks at the site from their reusable transfer totes, thus eliminating the plastic drums as a source of waste.

The automated bagging line was producing a considerable amount of waste plastic due to unusable bags. In 2023, the facility found a more sustainable option using Trex®, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing. Trex® has teamed up with popular store chains all over the US to source the vast quantities of recyclable plastic they need to produce their products. The Marseilles site is now recycling all waste product bags and pallet plastic wrap through this program. In 2024, the site is projected to divert 6,700 pounds of plastic from entering a landfill.

Ag container recycling

In 2022, we developed a global waste management strategy for our Nutrien Ag Solutions operations with a focus on our largest non-hazardous waste, plastic chemical containers and totes. Here are some of the ways we reduced plastic waste in 2023 at our global retail locations.

  • In the US, Nutrien became a member of the Ag Containers Recycling Council (ACRC) in 2021 with the purpose of increasing recycling of agrichemical plastics to support the responsible end-of-life management of industry containers. Together with ACRC, Nutrien has recycled nearly 955,000 kilograms of plastic containers since 2020.
  • In Australia, all of our Nutrien Ag Solutions locations participated in a plastic recycling program. In 2023, nearly 85 percent of the 110-litre drums used for crop protection and plant nutrition production distribution were returned for reuse – an increase from about 75 percent from the previous two years.
  • In Canada, more than 85 percent of our Nutrien Ag Solutions locations participated in an industry-wide program called Cleanfarms, which collects a variety of used agricultural packaging. In 2023, nearly 305,000 kilograms of this material was returned. Additionally, nearly 600,000 pesticide and fertilizer jugs – totaling approximately 213,000 kilograms of plastic – were recycled from retail locations across Canada.

“These programs are helping us execute on our overarching strategy to achieve environmental reductions, enable growers to adopt sustainable agricultural products and practices, and strive to be better stewards of the environment,” says Jeff Grussing, Senior Director, Environmental Management.