NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade C-
ChemScore report card 2021

Nutrien

Sprung from a merger between Potash and Agrium, Nutrien is now the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services. The company is a global player and produces and distributes potash, nitrogen, and phosphate products for agricultural, industrial and feed customers. Nutrien is the biggest producer of potash globally and operates some of the world’s largest potash mines.
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Total score
15 / 48

Grade Summary

Nutrien scores ten points out of 18 in the Product Portfolio category, which is the highest score in the ranking and on par with Air Products. This is because the company “only” produces two hazardous chemicals, and the fact that most of its production – 60 percent – takes place within the EU and US, where reliable data is available. Like all companies in the ranking, Nutrien has been encouraged to share information about its production in other regions, but has declined. Despite its high score in the first category, Nutrien is nowhere near ChemScore’s top ten. This is due to its weak performance in the two following categories, as well as several serious accidents and huge penalty fines over the past decade, rendering the company zero points in the Lack of Controversies category.

Opportunities for improvement

  1. We keep seeing severe incidents involving Nutrien. Since accidents are a common occurrence at the potash mines, the company should improve safety processes and train employees, in order to avoid injuries and reduce environmental impact. There is a trend towards fewer incidents than a couple of years ago, but this trend needs to accelerate significantly.
  2. Just like last year, we would like to see a clear and comprehensive screening method for hazardous product ingredients, along with a minimising strategy. For example, it is very unclear whether Nutrien’s Safety, Health and Environment (“SH&E”) Management System in their product stewardship, screen for intrinsic hazardous properties of their products. To know the intrinsic properties of all products is the foundation of a good chemical management system.
  3. Nutrien scored zero points for circularity this year. To reduce negative environmental impact and safeguard biodiversity from the production and use of fertilizers, we need techniques to substitute synthetic with waste-derived nutrients, formulated into high-quality, bio-based fertilizers. We couldn’t find any signs that Nutrien is implementing circularity into its core business to “transform agriculture”. We recommend the company to do this soon, so that it does not fall behind on the path to sustainability.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
10 / 18

Nutrien produces/uses 2 highly hazardous substances – 2 SIN List chemicals, no PICs, and 1 HHP – none of which are included on the EU’s REACH Candidate List. None of these highly hazardous substances are either banned or severely restricted (no Authorisation List substances, and no POPs). The company produces no persistent chemicals.

Please note that there is no available data for the 40 percent of the company’s production that takes place outside of the EU and US. Lower EU/US production means higher uncertainty with regard to the total production of hazardous chemicals, which will have a negative impact on the company’s score in this category.

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Development of Safer Chemicals
2 / 12

Nutrien has a method in place to screen and assess the sustainability of its products but does not include the intrinsic hazards of ingredients in the screening process. Neither does it exclude substances with toxic properties from its new products. Nutrien actively markets safer alternatives on its own website, but not on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has not any true circular products, processes or innovations. Nutrien does not use bio-based resources. Nor does it source or treat recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. Nutrien is not actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.

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Management & Transparency
3 / 12

The Canadian company does not produce only sustainable products, and it does not have a timed phase-out strategy for hazardous substances that go beyond regulatory compliance. However, it shares chemical safety information on its website and is following a credible code of conduct standard. Nutrien responded to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking. However, the company does not share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). Nutrien does not have a circular economy program in place, and it is lacking objective and measurable circular economy targets.

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Lack of Controversies
0 / 6

Accidents at the mines are a common occurrence and the company has been fined nearly every year the last decade. The highest penalty was fined in 2014, in a settlement with the United States for harmful air emissions at eight US production plants. Three subsidiaries of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS), now a Nutrien subsidiary, were required to spend an estimated 50 million USD on pollution reduction measures and pay a 1.3 million USD civil penalty. However, another fine of close to 3 million USD for environmental damage was issued in 2015. More recent controversies include a penalty fine imposed by the US EPA in November 2018, when Nutrien agreed to pay more than 300,000 USD for improper storage and labelling of agricultural pesticides. Over the past ten years, the company has paid a total of 58.4 million USD in fines for 36 environmental violations.

Download Controversies Nutrien (PDF, 142 KB)
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Overall rank
19 / 50
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Total score
15 / 48
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Product Portfolio
10 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
2 / 12
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Management & Transparency
3 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
0 / 6
Download report
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2023 13 / 50 17 / 48
2022 13 / 54 17 / 48
2021 19 / 50 15 / 48
2020 17 / 35 14 / 48