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Our continuous commitment to reporting on Valagro's sustainability
For about 40 years Valagro has been helping farmers to get the best out of their crops by optimising their use of resources and production inputs with one aim in mind: creating a sustainable future for people and the environment. This is an objective that cannot be achieved without an inherent coherence that characterises not only the solutions offered to the global market, but also the production processes and 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 and attentive to the needs of the community.
The data illustrated in the rest of this document refer to Valagro SpA's environmental, economic and social achievements.
The Valagro Group in figures
The desire to look beyond traditional solutions for agriculture and challenge the status quo, envisioning a future where sustainability is at the center. This is what guides Valagro from the very start of its story, and that has been chosen as the theme of the new Corporate video, released in November 2021: “Looking Beyond”.
The video, created together with the TIWI agency, summarizes into images and words Valagro’s years-long commitment in imagining what still does not exist yet: a brand-new concept of agriculture, which conjugates a higher productivity with a sustainable management of resources.
“Looking Beyond”, for Valagro, means not only overcoming the traditional categories of “chemical” and “natural”, without polarization, and with a mindset open to solution of unmet problems; but also adding value to people and their role, encouraging them to shape the future of agriculture.
As indicated in previous versions of our Sustainability Report, in order to correctly interpret the indicators relating to the environmental impact of Valagro SpA's activities, it is necessary to examine the relationship between these indicators and the value of production.
Compared to 2020, production in 2021 has increased by around 27%, a substantial growth not mirrored in an equivalent increase of the environmental indicators.
Total waste and metal emissions have undergone only a 16% and 7% increase approx. respectively, compared to a 27% increase in production. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions and thermal energy consumption were instead lowered with respect to 2020. Water withdrawals have only slightly increased (by less than 1.5%) despite the shift of the production mix towards a higher percentage of liquid products.
A more in-depth analysis can be found in the EMAS - Eco-Management and Audit Scheme declaration available on the Certifications page of the Valagro website.
In front of a consistent increase in production, only a contained increase in waste production is reported. This positive result is the fruit of plurennial strategies aimed at diminishing the amount of waste produced for tonne of final product, such as, for example, the selection of suppliers who are able to guarantee supplies without packaging (in silos, tanks), or with fully reusable returnable packaging.
With regard to atmospheric emissions, the quantities of metals emitted per tonne of production in 2021 remained stable despite a significant increase in production. This is thanks to triboelectric detectors that improve the detection of filter bag leaks; furthermore, the use of selected raw materials and the continuous search for higher environmental performance aim to reduce atmospheric emissions as much as possible. Metal emissions remained a significant target in 2021, which the company was able to properly manage.
VOC - Volatile organic compounds (II - III - IV)
As regards the volatile organic compound emissions (phenol, isobutyl alcohol and isobutyl acetate), it is important to note that their level is influenced by the production mix. The specific situation of the production mix that has influenced the 2020 values has returned, bringing back the values for 2021 into the area of their usual levels. Furthermore, an optimization of the productive process has been implemented, that has consequently brought a consistent improvement of emissions and the related index.
During 2021, we saw an overall reduction in the thermal energy indicator (toe [ton of oil equivalent]/Ton PF).
This positive performance has been obtained despite a strong increment of the use of thermal energy for services, after the activation of the Research center. The building, completed in 2020 and entered into service in 2021, has a surface of around 1700 square meters per floor. Furthermore, the greenhouses built on the top have a volume of approximately 5000 cubic metres, whose heating requires a significant amount of thermal energy (via methane).
The overall reduction of the thermal energy consumption can be explained considering, on one hand, the use of the cogeneration plant that has made processes involving heavy use of processing heat more efficient.
On the other hand, we registered a reduced consumption of thermal energy by the production plants due to the shift of the production mix towards less energy-intensive products.
Energy and CO2 Emissions
At present, the cogeneration plant is a cornerstone in the optimisation of Valagro SpA's energy consumption. Its installation has made it possible to increase plant productivity, especially as regards the drying phase, taking advantage of the capacity to process all the semi-finished products coming from the reactors and thus guaranteeing high production standards. In addition to the thermal capacity, the plant provides approximately 400 kW of electrical power. This has made it possible to reduce the share of electrical energy purchased from the grid and to achieve an overall process efficiency (electrical and thermal) of over 85%.
Valagro believes that water is an indispensable and precious primary resource. For this very reason, efforts are made to minimise the consumption of mains water through a system of collection and use of rainwater for technical purposes. In 2020 and 2021, there was an increase in water withdrawal as the production mix has been shifting to products in liquid form (especially biostimulants). Also, in 2021 (as in 2020) the increase in water withdrawal is linked to the low levels of rainfall which determined a subsequent reduction in the availability of rainwater.
For Valagro, monitoring CO₂ emissions – as well as other environmental externalities - associated with the production of its solutions is a concrete commitment that allows the company to limit the environmental impact by making agricultural production more sustainable and of a higher quality. To reach this goal, during the course of 2021, Valagro has kept working to obtain the certification of the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) process, in order to quantify the environmental impact of its products all along their entire life cycle.
The production of healthy food for a healthy world is a challenge that Valagro strongly believes in, and today this commitment takes on renewed value thanks to the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy, the cornerstone of the European Green Deal. In line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals mentioned at the beginning of this report, and thanks to specific actions that affect the entire supply chain, from agriculture to the way food is labelled, the F2F strategy intends to promote the transition towards a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system on a global level, through trade policies and international cooperation between Europe and third countries.
In 2021, in the Pashamylaram plant, the following upgrades have been implemented:
In 2021, in the Kristiansund plant, the following upgrades have been implemented:
In 2021, in the Pirassununga plant, the following upgrades have been implemented:
Its years-long commitment in the field of environmental, social and economic sustainability won Valagro the placement among the “top 100 sustainable companies in Italy” in the framework of the first edition of the Sustainable Award.
The Award, sponsored by Credit Suisse and KON Group, is dedicated to the Italian companies that have distinguished themselves more in the implementation of pathways for sustainable and inclusive development generating value for the stakeholders and the community. In the course of the selection, firms have been evaluated by means of two independent models: the first one, based on the ESG rating model developed by ALTIS (Alta Scuola Impresa e Società) of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore; the second one based on the Reprisk methodology. The names of the 100 winners have been reported on Forbes.
Valagro Biosciences Private Limited receives the India Biodiversity Award
The virtuous behaviour that has characterized the Indian subsidiary of the Valagro group regarding the fair and sustainable access to biological resources has led Valagro Biosciences to obtain the prestigious India Biodiversity Award.
The Award, a joint initiative by the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the National Biodiversity Authority and the United Nations Development Programme, testifies to Valagro’s commitment in the field of “Replicable Mechanisms for Access and Benefit Sharing, ABS”. In particular, it recognized the fairness of Valagro’s behavior in the access to soil microbiome and the equitable distribution of the royalties among the villages interested by the withdrawal of resources.
The adoption of the Syngenta Group code of conduct
Paying attention to our People means also pursuing a safe, serene working environment with high ethical standards. In this spirit – that has guided Valagro from its foundation – and following the entry in 2020 in the Syngenta Group, Valagro has updated its Code of Conduct adhering to the Syngenta Group code.
The adoption of the new Code of Conduct follows up and strenghtens the desire – which was already concrete in Valagro – to maintain the highest ethical responsibility principles towards coworkers, customers and all stakeholders. In particular, thanks to the new Code, a joint Valagro and Syngenta ambition takes shape – that is to say, the ambition of guaranteeing high excellence standards to their People, in terms of quality and integrity of the workplace: an environment where ethics, loyalty and safety meet to ensure a better future for people and nature.
Continuous People listening: the Valagro Pulse survey
In Valagro our people are the greatest value. Listening, sharing, dialogue and action are part of our DNA and our way of working as a team. In particular, listening is at the heart of the lead and development of our People, and in 2021, with the introduction of the Valagro Pulse survey, People has been listened in a new way. We asked everyone to globally to give transparent feedback about their own experience in Valagro, sharing thoughts, ideas, needs, expectations, and aspirations. The intent was to listen, to facilitate ongoing discussion with team, with concrete, actionable, insights for making awesome the Valagro company journey. More than 700 Valagro Employees, about the 76% of the population, decided to share their voice in this occasion, for making Valagro a better place to work.
Valagro obtained the ConciliAmo founding
Valagro’s commitment in guaranteeing a 360° support to its People, inside and outside work, has been further strengthened thanks to an important result obtained in 2021: the win of the #Conciliamo tender, the funding allocated by the Department of Family Policies and destined to measures promoting a custom-built welfare for families, with particular attention to equilibrating the workload among men and women and supporting families with people with disabilities.
Among the 800+ firms participating over the whole Country, the Welfare projects proposed by the Global Legal, People & Culture team have won Valagro a funding that will allow the Company to implement a number of projects dedicated to our People, with caregivers, family, health and work at the center.
The Valagro stop of the Susan G. Komen Caravan of Prevention
In such a critical moment as the global pandemic, characterized by the drastic drop in diagnostic tests, Valagro has been committed to underline the importance of prevention and early diagnosis of pathologies that require an effective treatment process. To this purpose, Valagro hosted at the Atessa Headquarter the Caravan of Prevention, organized by the Susan G. Komen Italia association, a non-profit organization of reference in Italy for the fight against breast cancer. Thanks to the 3 mobile units available in the Headquarter, more than 100 medical exams were made available, among which breast, thyroid and dermatological screenings for Valagro people of both sexes.
Valagro launches the Employee Assistance Program
Listening to the individual needs, offering qualified solutions into a psychologically safe, inclusive, and open environment: this is the aim of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the new portal dedicated to the Group’s people and their families, and implemented by Valagro – as part of the Syngenta Group – in the course of 2021. Meant to be a program offering qualified support in tackling the small and big challenges of our People’s everyday life, through the EAP it is possible to benefit from high-quality counselling, support during the critical moments inside and outside work, and a service of training and individual development. All these features are available via a full-time portal, navigable in a 100% private mode.
The assistance to Valagro people during the global pandemic continues
With the prolonging sanitary emergency due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, Valagro has renewed the assistance and protection measures dedicated to its People and their families. Besides the maintenance of safety measures in the working environment – including the adoption, where possible, of remote working – the company has continuously supplied to employees no.5 FFP2 face masks per month, destined to each family unit. As a further mean to protect their People, Valagro has also maintained the insurance policy that grants every employee of Valagro S.p.A. and their families a compensation in case of contagion from Covid-19.
Valagro Academy is the program that has been creating and sharing with customers, since 2016, a highly-qualified knowledge on Valagro solutions for plant nutrition and care, with a particular attention to resources optimization and sustainability in agriculture.
Over the course of 2021, where possible depending on the sanitary conditions of the Country, we have resumed in-person activities, running more than 800 live meetings. We continued to run some trainings remotely, though, and this allowed us to grant training and assistance even where the socio-sanitary emergency did not allow to intervene in person.
This hybrid mode has allowed the Marketing team, along with the Market Development Managers of the Valagro team, to reach a high number of people, be it with events dedicated to specific customers needs (distributors, technicians, farmers), or with training sessions destined to the Valagro sales team on the topic of plant nutrition and biostimulants.
In order to promote a new way to conceive agriculture – regarding not only the use of biostimulants, but also the adoption of precision technologies for sustainable farming - Valagro has created and promoted a new award destined to farmers worldwide: the Farmers Award. The award, launched in the framework of the 5th Biostimulants World Congress, is dedicated to an audience far wider than Valagro customers only, including also those who have embraced the responsible use of biostimulants in their agricultural practices and that have adopted the latest innovations in agriculture.
Among the winners, selected by a jury composed of important personalities of the agricultural sector, two Valagro customers – from Brazil and Spain - ranked at the 1st and 3rd place, testifying to Valagro’s continuous commitment in promoting the most innovative instruments for a sustainable agriculture.
One year after the inauguration of our Research Center, research activities have continued at full speed, benefitting from new spaces and available resources. Despite the prolonged pandemic emergency, researchers of the Global Research team have continued their work in full respect of the safety rules in force, going on with the publication of scientific papers, patents deposit, as well as scientific communication both in presence and remotely.
2021 has seen the successful conclusion of the two projects funded by Regione Abruzzo in the framework of POR FESR Abruzzo 2014-2020. The “INNOPAQ” project (Sustainable Innovation for Quality Agri-food Production), in which Valagro has been project leader and coordinator of important realities of the agri-food sector and research of central Italy, was aimed at promoting quality and sustainability of the Abruzzo agri-food system through the development of biostimulants for improving the characteristics of typical crops. The “RECOVER” project, which has reunited three industrial landmarks in the Abruzzo region (Valagro, FaterSMART and Almacis), leveraged on the individual know-hows to transform the outputs of the used absorbent hygiene product recycling process into biostimulants for sustainable nutrition of crops.
Furthermore, in 2021 a new project has been inaugurated, based on metabolomics (research topic that studies the chemical characterization of cellular processes), in collaboration with the Dutch university of Wageningen (“WUR”). The project has the goal of exploring the way of working of Valagro biostimulants by means of innovative technologies, complementary to the ones already in force in our Atessa Research Center.
Valagro research had wide resonance worldwide in the course of 2021. In the framework of the 5th edition of the Biostimulants World Congress, the Valagro Research department presented a novel and innovative approach for the identification and differentiation of next-gen biostimulants based on crop-beneficial microorganisms. Furthermore, the results of years-long studies conducted along with important realities of the Italian research panorama (CNR of Pisa, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa, Università di Pisa and Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa) led to a publication on the prestigious scientific paper Nature Plants.
In conclusion, during this year, synergies have been fueled between the Valagro and the Syngenta research groups (after their start in 2020) in the framework of three strategic areas: biostimulation, formulation and biocontrol. In line with the already-tested model of the thematic "deep dives" (plant science, microbiology, plant pathology, innovative formulation technologies etc.), the aim of this collaboration is to understand how to leverage synergistically on the complementary Valagro and Syngenta know-hows, in order to create project opportunities tailored on responding to the continuously evolving Agri-business needs.
Since 2016, we communicate the impact of our business activities from a social, environmental and economic perspective using, as a reference, the G4 GRI international standards dictated by the Global Reporting Initiative. This provides us with an objectively valid and internationally recognised tool with specific characteristics of comparability, accuracy, clarity, timeliness and reliability.
This publication will expressly outline the indicators reported by the various corporate functions according to the availability of the information required by the standard.