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For more than 40 years Valagro, legacy company of Syngenta Biologicals, has been helping farmers to get the best out of their crops with one aim in mind: creating a sustainable future for people and nature. This vision also permeates our production processes and our corporate culture.
The Sustainability Report is a useful tool that helps us explain our consistent and constant commitment to sustainability year after year. It is an act of responsibility towards the wider community in which we operate and with which we hope to cultivate a culture that is increasingly respectful of the environment.
Scope 1 and 2 emissions are, respectively, direct greenhouse gas emissions from owned or controlled sources and indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased energy. For the first year, we have calculated our direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) greenhouse gas emissions across all our production sites worldwide. This is an important advancement for us, as a precise quantification is the first and necessary step for taking tailored measures for reduction.
ALGEA is our Norway premise where seaweed are collected and processed to serve later as raw materials for our products. Since some of the processes run there are particularly energy-intensive, we made an important step in progressing towards more sustainable operations by choosing to purchase only certified electric energy from renewable sources, bringing Scope 2 emissions for that site to zero.
In order to progress towards less emission-intensive operations, we have started a process of energy efficiency increase across our sites led by the Atessa site, that obtained the ISO 50001 certification in 2021. In our historical Atessa plant, a cogeneration system and a photovoltaic plant are responsible for the self-generation of, respectively, 39% and 7% of the energy used in the plant. Other energy efficiency projects are ongoing in the plants worldwide, that also involve the implementation of predictive maintenance systems.
We are devoting many efforts in the sustainable use of resources and in improving our waste management policy, with a view to circular economy. At the moment, 30% of the waste produced in our plants are recycled, while the remaining are incinerated with energy recovery. We are currently working on enhancing this percentage in the framework of new research projects: an example is the case of the insoluble residuals deriving from the seaweed extraction process (“filter cake”), which constitute the majority of the non-hazardous waste. Those waste materials are momentarily disposed by incineration with energy recovery, but could be used as secondary raw material upon further research.
According to the Water Risk Atlas from World Resources Institute, three of the Valagro Group production sites are located in water-stressed areas: two in Italy (Valagro SpA, Grabi) and India. Therefore, we have implemented a series of strategies aimed at a more efficient use of water resources, including the use of a cooling tower (Atessa in Italy, and India) and a rainwater collection system (Atessa and Brazil). The effects of those systems on the water recovery performance vary consistently across sites, as water consumption is not only influenced by the water recovery technologies implemented in each plant, but also by the chemical nature of the manufactured product, ranging from extremely water-intensive products such as chelates, to the least impactful solids.
Valagro has a long-standing commitment to the valorisation of side-products as secondary raw materials, with a view to circular economy. For this reason, 32% of the total raw materials used in the manufacturing of our products are byproducts of other processes, and 90% of this fraction is derived from renewable sources. This is a result that we strive to progressively improve by means of the efforts of our Research team and their projects focused on circular economy.
The Environmental Product Declaration is a voluntary, independently verified document that quantifies the environmental impact of a product or service along all its life cycle, and communicates it in a transparent and comparable way. With this important step, that has seen MASTER™ 20-20-20, FERRILENE™, VIVA™, and MEGAFOL™ manufactured in Atessa obtain the certification, an already significant part of our portfolio has been covered; furthermore, our commitment continues to the extension of the list of our EPD certified solutions and to the certification of the EPD process for our production sites in India and Brazil.
As products for plant and soil health, aiming helping crops make the most out of inputs and resources, while preserving ecosystems and enhancing yield, biostimulants are essential solutions in the implementation of regenerative agriculture practices. During 2022, we carried our numerous activities aimed at increasing awareness on our biostimulants and facilitating their correct and most profitable use. Among these, the launch of our biostimulant TALETE™ in India, Brazil and US, with dedicated trainings and field days, as well as the prosecution of our Soil Health Project, an international program led by Valagro in partnership with recognized prestigious Universities and Clinical Research Organizations, with the goal of giving scientific evidence of biostimulants’ effect on soil.
Valagro is committed to become a ‘learning organization’ by making learning an organic and distinctive part of its way of working, and giving its people the possibility to continuously access to high quality resources. To achieve this goal, the Valagro Corporate University (VCU) has been developed at global level for guiding and supporting people growth by enabling continual, digital tech and multi-modal learning. Throughout 2022, VCU has made available to employees a wide selection of self-paced courses, webinars, and internal and external learning resources, either in presence or digital, delivering almost 39000 hours of direct training to our personnel.
For us, it is important to create value in the communities where we operate, and for this reason we are particularly committed to hiring our personnel on a local (national) basis. This does not mean that we don’t accept and appreciate applications from abroad, but that we are happier to develop the existing talents from local communities rather than source them from elsewhere, with a view to the enrichment our communities. This becomes particularly important when it comes to developing Countries, where hiring locally is a means to empowering the local workforce.
For us, people are our precious asset, and we engage them in constant dialogue and dedicated activities to make sure their voice is constantly heard at all levels. As an example, in 2022, we have launched a pilot survey to investigate the efficacy of our internal communication means and activities, that targeted the operators of the Atessa plant. Building on the results of the survey, special trainings have been implemented on the use of the intranet and interactive terminals have been placed throughout the Atessa site to facilitate its use.
We have adopted a Management By Objective (MBO) reward system, in which managers and employees collaborate to set goals to obtain a performance-based bonus. One of the targets set has been focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, in order to encourage the creation of a fair and inclusive workplace, particularly for underrepresented or subject-to-discrimination groups.
2022 has seen the launch of two important initiatives dedicated to the well-being of our people, with important implications in terms of promotion of a sustainable lifestyle: the launch of a new formalized policy for smart working (up to 12 days/month) and of a company carpooling service for our people in the Valagro SpA facilities, where most of our employees are concentrated. Furthermore, a significant number of resources from our commercial subsidiaries worldwide has already adopted smart working as a standard way of working, unless their specific case requires presence in the office.
The Safety Pause is a dedicated moment of reflection involving all teams, whose members come together to discuss the health and safety topics that are more relevant to their daily activities upon the guide of the team leader. Every year, leaders receive indications on the topics to treat as well as useful resources to efficiently engage in the debate, and select one topic based on the relevance to the team activities. Proposed topics for 2022 included driving safety, hands safety in manual operation and mental health.
Through training programs dedicated to health and safety topics, regular safety audits, and the implementation of cutting-edge safety protocols, we empower our employees to recognize and mitigate potential risks, fostering a culture of vigilance and responsibility. Moreover, the company actively seeks opportunities for continuous improvement, regularly assessing and updating safety measures to align with the latest industry practices and innovations.
In the course of 2022, we have continued granting highly qualified training to our customers through the Valagro Academy program. Active since 2016, the program makes available highly qualified knowledge on Valagro solutions for plant nutrition and care, with a particular attention to resources optimization and sustainability in agriculture. Trainings have been administered with a tailored approach to local audiences, centered either on crops of interest, use of products, or specific agronomic strategies. This allowed us to reach, in 2022, almost 39000 people across 25 nations among in-person and remote events, dedicated to specific customer needs on plant nutrition and management.
We have always been strongly committed to creating a safe working environment, and keeping our ethical standards high is one of our top priorities. Following our entry in the Syngenta Group, Valagro has further implemented the level of our ethical responsibilities by adopting the Syngenta Group Code of Conduct. This alignment has entered into force in the Board of Directors on 16th December 2021 and implies a yearly commitment renewal from the Communities involved.
2022 saw the creation of a sustainability function inside the organization, whose task include the definition of the Company sustainability strategy and its implementation, in synergy with the Syngenta Group, the application of methodologies and tools for measuring sustainability and ESG aspects, and the engagement of internal and external stakeholders on sustainability topics. Our efforts go into progressively integrating sustainability in the core of our business practices, operations and corporate culture, making it a pillar of our company's decision-making processes.