ENVIRONMENTAL CARE IN ACTIONS
ENVIRONMENTAL CARE IN ACTIONS During 2020 we recertified the current versions of ISO 9001 and 14001, migrated to ISO 45001 (Formerly OHSAS 18001) and successfully maintained ISO 50001.
Environmental care is a fundamental pillar for our Company. We operate focused on:
- The prevention of environmental impacts
- The safety of the facilities and people’s health
- The training of producers for the responsible use of fertilizers at a social and environmental level.
- The integration of our environmental commitment into new business and community
- Measuring our impact, defining objectives and integrating policies and programs into operations for the continuous improvement of environmental performance
GRI 103-2, 103-3, 302-1, 302-3, 302-4, 302-5, 303-1,303-2, 303-4, 303-5, 305-1, 305-5, 305-7, 306-1, 306-2, 306-3
Material Issues: Water and Effluents, Waste: generation, treatment and disposal, Gaseous emissions: release of substances to the atmosphere, Energy: efficient use, Regulatory compliance and anti-corruption practices
Our Integrated Management System (IMS) gives us the framework to work towards the continuous improvement of our processes, products and services. It is certified according to the following standards:
Occupational Safety and Health
Energy Management (Bahía Blanca Plant)
Protect & Sustain
of the International Fertilizers Association – IFA(4)
(4) The objective of this standard is to implement responsible business management processes throughout the product life cycle, improving safety and sustainability in fertilizer production plants, beyond the physical boundaries of the factory, in collaboration with suppliers, carriers and business partners who share the same values.
The systematic monitoring of the following Environmental Program indicators feeds our continuous improvement process.
UNDERGROUND WATER RESOURCE
LIQUID EFFLUENT QUALITY
SURFACE WATER RESOURCE (Bahía Blanca Estuary)
UNDERGROUND WATER RESOURCE
LIQUID EFFLUENT QUALITY
SURFACE WATER RESOURCE (Bahía Blanca Estuary)
These controls comply with strict legal standards, established by national and international organizations. Compliance with environmental commitments (legal and volunteer) are audited once a year, through an independent external auditor, in addition to internal audits of the integrated management system and external audits of the partners YPF S.A. and Nutrien Inc. In addition, we are controlled and monitored by various competent bodies: Consorcio de Gestión del Puerto de Bahía Blanca (CGPBB), Prefectura Naval Argentina (PNA), Autoridad del Agua (ADA, Province of Buenos Aires), Organismo Provincial para el Desarrollo Sostenible (OPDS, Province of Buenos Aires) and the Comité Técnico Ejecutivo (Bahía Blanca Municipality). In 2020, these agencies conducted a total of 14 inspections at our Company, yet no significant fines nor non-monetary sanctions were received for non-compliance with environmental regulations.
EH&S legal compliance verification audits were conducted at all certified sites and ISO 9001 re-certifications achieved: Quality Management System and ISO 14001: Environment management system In addition, Profertil migrated from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management, a task that included updating the identification of hazards and risks of all the activities that we carry out in Profertil. We also migrated successfully to the standard of the ISO 50001:11 ISO 50001:11 Energy Management to 2018 version.
The internal audits were conducted in September and the management review and external audits in October. All the aforementioned audits were performed remotely for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a great effort and an important achievement. The Bureau Veritas external auditors concluded that our management system was consolidated throughout the organization.
In 2020, we continued to adhere to and participate in the Responsible Care of the Environment Program administered by the Argentine Chamber of Chemical and Petrochemical Industries (CIQyP), attending the meetings scheduled virtually and complying with the self-evaluations of the seven codes and the delivery of the performance indicators. With these data, the CIQyP prepares reports about the sector it represents. On November 16, 17 and 18, the biannual audit of the aforementioned program was received virtually. The result was 9.6. Det Norske Veritas made the audit and they recommended recertifying the program.
INVESTMENT, TRAINING AND ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS
The continuous improvement approach allows a percentage of the budget, destined to investments, to be used for expenses and investments in environmental improvements, which in this period consumed more than USD 20,000,000. We reinforce this logic through awareness campaigns and training on the subject aimed at different audiences:
Employees: Environment, Health and Security (MASS) training, through a computer application that allows self-management, with accreditation of knowledge, within the Project of Formation and Accreditation of Technical Competences related to MASS. In 2020, 3760 training hours were given.
Suppliers and contractors: We maintain an agreement with the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional (Bahía Blanca Regional Faculty), to train contractor personnel and accredit the knowledge acquired, with educational material prepared by Profertil professionals. In the case of Ammonia, we carry out a control of the trucks at their entrance to the plant, rejecting units that did not comply with the legislation. We continue to communicate our policies and procedures in meetings with safety technicians (monthly), safety managers (bi-monthly) and contractor owners (semi-annually), where environmental, health and safety issues are included.
Clients and distributors: We organize our own events in the field, for which we convene experts from the sector, where the results of the different field trials carried out by Profertil are shown. We promote and disseminate the Best Management Practices (BMP) for the correct application of solid and liquid fertilizers, through the Solid Fertilizer Handling Manual and a Technical Bulletin with the best practices for use, handling and storage. We stimulate research and research and transfer of knowledge on environmentally friendly products, and we provide recommendations on balanced doses for sustainable management of agricultural and livestock production systems
Community: We provide training to firefighters to establish emergency response strategies, in case of incidents involving our product (Ammonia). In addition, we hold regular meetings with a selected group of firefighters, police personnel, and Civil Defense and health professionals. We actively participate in the APELL process, integrating the three commissions that make it up: Emergency Response, Risk Analysis and Dissemination.
Applying state-of-the-art technology in all the links
of the chain, we produce and market fertilizers that
sustainably nourish the crops in our fields.
A CAREFUL PRODUCTION PROCESS
Our production process is continuous, so responsible management of natural resources, especially non-renewable resources, is essential for operations. Natural gas and water are basic inputs necessary for the development of our activities.
Air, which provides nitrogen (N), natural gas (CH4) and water (H2O) are the raw materials for producing ammonia (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Then, from the reaction of these two products, a solution of Urea is obtained which is later granulated, thus, achieving our final product: Granulated Urea.
Non-drinking water (internally referred to as “raw”) entering the complex is sent to the Utilities Plant to be filtered in the filtration unit. From there a part is sent to the cooling tower system, a semi-closed system where it is recirculated, and another part is sent to the Demineralization Plant to meet the strict process requirements for boiler water and process steam. Steam is conditioned to serve two main functions: as a motive power to drive large machine turbines, and as a feedstock for the reforming system along with natural gas.
Through heating and the intervention of catalysts, the feedstock is transformed into carbon and hydrogen oxides, then air is added to obtain nitrogen and oxygen to complete the reaction to carbon dioxide. Subsequently, the carbon dioxide is separated to be sent to the Urea Plant, the hydrogen with the nitrogen supplied by compressed air is sent to the synthesis section to produce Ammonia. Part of the Ammonia is sent to the Urea Plant to be combined with carbon dioxide, previously separated, to form Urea under certain temperature and pressure conditions.
By means of separation and concentration processes, a 96% Urea solution is obtained, which is the required condition for the subsequent granulation process. In the granulators, the Urea is transformed into pellets (small spheres of 3 millimeters in diameter), which constitute the final product. The Ammonia not used in the Urea Plant (main product of Profertil’s Industrial Division) is destined for commercialization as a coolant and raw material in the cosmetic and cleaning industries.
In order to produce granulated Urea, we need three components: Water, natural gas and air.
Which are converted under special temperature and pressure conditions.
In our plant, we get raw water, which is filtered, demineralized and cooled down.
Then, it goes into a boiler to become steam.
That steam reaches the furnaces where natural gas also comes in, and where, at high temperatures, both feedstocks are divided into
carbon, hydrogen and other gases at very high temperatures.
Then, hydrogen goes into a piece of equipment where it is combined with nitrogen from the air and converts them into ammonia (NH3).
Part of this ammonia is used to produce urea. The remainder is sold for different uses, such as coolant and raw material for the cosmetic and cleaning industries.
The ammonia we use to produce urea must be combined with carbon dioxide. The result is liquid Urea , which is passed through concentration processes until it has the right consistency to enter the granulators.
In short, we are a company that takes a resource that is generally used for combustion, natural gas, and adds value to it by transforming it into nutrients for the soil.
This happens 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, therefore, we say that we are a continuous process plant.
This process produces liquid and gaseous wastes that are permanently monitored by our Environment, Health and Safety area and by the Laboratory. This monitoring complies with strict legal standards established by international organizations, our country, the province of Buenos Aires and the city of Bahía Blanca.
We were the first company in the country to promote the recovery and export of spent catalysts after their use in the production process, which otherwise, must be disposed of in a safety landfill. We are currently working on contacting new recipient companies, in order to establish a more agile process.
ENERGY AND EMISSIONS
Systematically, we implement different controls and processes that allow us to make an efficient use of natural gas, both for combustion and for its processing and transformation into fertilizer. Thus, we adopted the use of off-gas as fuel, which contributed to reducing the consumption of the auxiliary boiler. Below are some consumption reduction data for the use of off-gas:
We also carry out actions aimed at minimizing the impact of GHG emissions. We permanently take measurements at the Bahia Blanca Plant and generate actions for their reduction. Thus, for example, within the framework of the project in alliance with Compañía Mega, we continue with the purchase of carbon dioxide from this company (which would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere) and use it as raw material to increase the production of Urea.
“We signed the agreement with YPF Luz in 2018. Back then we started using energy from renewable sources in our factory, but now, with the start-up of Los Teros, we already meet 60% of our needs with wind energy, which makes us very proud. This new advance that Profertil is making with renewable energy sources is linked to the increasingly sustainable agriculture in Argentina, in which corn and wheat, crops grown with our Urea, are absolutely strategic.”
Federico Veller, General Manager
WATER AND EFFLUENTS
Water reaches our plant through an aqueduct, which flows to this area before entering the Patagonia water treatment plant, from where it is supplied to the city of Bahia Blanca. The source used for water collection is the Paso de las Piedras Dam. The water that enters the complex, called “raw” (not drinking), is later filtered and demineralized in the Utilities Plant to comply with the strict requirements of the production process. Since it is such a valuable resource, we carry out the following engineering interventions, in order to make its use more efficient:
• Water treatment plant of filter backwashes
• Installation of a reverse osmosis water pretreatment plant (this unit provides flexibility to process water with a high organic and mineral solids load, allowing a reduction in its consumption by improving its quality).
• Flotation and ultrafiltration system.
• Water recovery circuits.
• Granulation wash water reuse
In Profertil, we are aware of the existing pressure on water resources, which is why we focus on analyzing measures to optimize and better manage the use of this vital resource. During 2020, we made progress in determining the water footprint of Profertil Urea from cradle to distribution, and we expect to conclude this work during 2021. The main objective of the study is to determine the water footprint of our operations and their processes, thus evaluating the environmental impacts of our activity on water, in order to favor improvement in the management of this scarce resource.
The Water Footprint quantifies the potential water-related impacts in the life cycle of products/services, processes and organizations. It refers not only to the volume of freshwater consumed but is a multidimensional indicator that makes explicit the place of origin, the source and the time at which the water is used and returned (to the place of origin or elsewhere). In other words, it evaluates the impacts in time and space of water extraction and its return as wastewater or treated water.
As a consequence of our production processes, we generate waste, which is monitored by our Environment, Health and Safety area, complying with the legal regulations of international and national organizations (province of Buenos Aires and city of Bahía Blanca). We manage solid waste following an internal procedure, which allows the identification, registration and control from the points of generation, collection, classification and treatment or final disposal.
Our priority is to eliminate or minimize the generation, reuse, recycling, finally treatment, and final disposal (when the above is not possible). Below are some of the activities carried out:
• Annual affidavit, before the application authority, obtaining the corresponding qualification certificate (Special Qualification Certificate).
• Agreement with the Municipality of Bahía Blanca for the disposal of recyclable solid waste: paper, wood and plastic.