“I’ve never been shy about my passion for fertilizer. It’s a magical innovation that’s responsible for saving millions of lives from hunger and lifting millions more out of poverty by boosting agricultural productivity.” - Bill Gates
The November 2018 quotation from business magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates reinforces the sense of pride that is shared among people who work in the fertilizer industry. After all, Gates sees some of the world’s most challenging problems firsthand, and he thinks our industry is an enormous force for global good.
Still, we must keep earning the public trust by functioning sustainably and ensuring that our products are produced and used with care for communities, their economies, and the environment.
TFI’s State of the Fertilizer Industry Report initiative gathers and aggregates quantitative measures of industry sustainability. On worker safety, for example, the fertilizer industry continues to outperform industry peers in the manufacturing and wholesale/blending sectors as reported in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Across the board, companies in our industry are more than two times as safe as their peers in the chemical sector.
From 2015 through 2017, companies in this report invested an average of $3.8 billion annually in new facilities and in upgrades of existing infrastructure. Capital investments help fertilizer companies meet sustainability goals by increasing production efficiencies, reducing energy and water use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthening the U.S. economy.
Ensuring that our products are used consistently with the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship (the right fertilizer source at the right rate, the right time, and in the right place) requires commitment from the industry, including establishing a knowledgeable employee base and investing in product research, technology innovation, infrastructure, and stakeholder partnerships. The commitment also requires working closely with our farmer customers. You will find information on our commitments in this arena in the “Fertilizer on the Farm” section of this report.
If you have questions or other comments on the contents of the report, I invite you to contact us at [email protected] so that we can improve next year’s State of the Fertilizer Industry Report.
The Fertilizer Industry’s Contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In 2015, the United Nations adopted a set of goals aimed at ending poverty and promoting prosperity while protecting the planet. These 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) involve the work of governments, businesses, and citizens to improve the lives of people everywhere. The Fertilizer Institute and our members are working to achieve continuous improvement on environmental, economic, and social outcomes, and our industry is actively contributing to the following SDGs that align most closely to the sector.
The fertilizer industry supplies the nutrients needed to grow the crops that feed the world.
Sustainable water management practices and land reclamation are in place during fertilizer production and on the farm. Fertilizer best management practice awareness, research, and implementation is a priority to reduce environmental loss.
Clean, abundant natural gas powers many of the industry’s production operations, and waste heat recapture technologies make facilities more efficient.
Capital investments to advance innovation and improve infrastructure have positive impacts on safety, environmental, and energy performance.
Practices are in place to capture and reuse CO2 emitted during fertilizer production and on the farm. Optimized fertilizer use to reduce nitrogen emissions is pursued.