NOT CURRENT YEAR

Grade C-
ChemScore report card 2021

Yara

Yara International is one of the world’s largest producers of nitrogen fertilisers and a major player in the growth of industrial agriculture. Yara produces, distributes, and sells nitrogen-based mineral fertilisers and other related industrial products. The company also sells a range of phosphate and potash-based mineral fertilisers, as well as complex and specialty mineral fertiliser products. The Norwegian government owns more than a third of Yara and is its largest shareholder.
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Total score
16 / 48

Grade summary

Yara International produces 3 highly hazardous chemicals. This is a relatively low number compared to many other companies in the ranking. However, the fact that only about half of the company’s production takes place within the EU and US, where transparency is higher and reliable data is available, leaves it with a humble 6 points in the Product Portfolio category. Like all companies in the ranking, Yara International has been encouraged to share information about its production, but has declined. The company makes a weak performance in the following two categories, where the total score has gone down 3 points compared to last year. This is mainly due to the fact that the intrinsic hazards of ingredients aspect is no longer included in the screening and assessment process. On a positive note, there is no record of the company being involved in any major environmental or safety controversies over the past decade, rendering the company all 6 points in the last category.

Opportunities for improvement

  1. Yara’s position paper on circular economy reflects on the EU circular economy package and mentions research, cutting waste and optimising fertilizer application. However, it falls short of having a circular core business strategy, including closing nutrient loops, reducing negative discharges into the environment and using agricultural food waste as feedstock.
  2. The company states that they “avoid, whenever possible, the procurement of chemicals classified as most hazardous”. This phrasing leaves much room for interpretation. We would like to see clear, cut-off hazard criteria for the development of new products.
  3. Two thirds of the companies in our ranking have a systematic approach for managing intrinsic hazards of chemicals, and we recommend that Yara adopts that too. The company only states that it is compliant with regulations and ensures a ”systematic monitoring of the quality and safety of all our products”.

Category breakdown

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Product Portfolio
6 / 18

Yara produces/uses 3 highly hazardous substances – 3 SIN List chemicals, no PICs, and 2 HHPs – 2 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 49 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

Yara 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. Nor does it exclude substances with toxic properties from its new products. Yara actively markets safer alternatives on its own website, but not on ChemSec Marketplace. The company has no true circular product, process or innovation. Yara does not use biobased resources. Nor does it source and treat recycled materials in a sustainable way, which is one of the key elements of a circular economy. Yara is not actively reducing the hazardous waste it generates.

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Management & Transparency
2 / 12

The Norwegian company does not produce only sustainable products. Nor does it have a phase-out strategy for hazardous substances that go beyond regulatory compliance. It shares chemical safety information on its website and is following a credible code of conduct standard. Yara did not respond to ChemSec’s attempts to communicate around its ChemScore ranking. Nor does it share any information about what kind of chemicals it produces in regions with low regulatory demands for transparency (e.g. Asia). Yara does not have a circular economy program in place, thus lacking objective and measurable circular economy targets.

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Lack of Controversies
6 / 6

Yara is known for being a fracking advocate and has been accused of lobbying for shale gas development in Europe. Together with other fertiliser producers, Yara is responsible for using most of the natural gas produced by fracking in the United States. In 2019, 500 activists from the climate movement “Free the soil” blocked Yara’s production site in Northern Germany, seeking to draw attention to the harmful climate consequences caused by the production of synthetic fertilizers.

Download Controversies Yara International (PDF, 138 KB)
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Overall rank
13 / 50
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Total score
16 / 48
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Product Portfolio
6 / 18
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Development of Safer Chemicals
2 / 12
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Management & Transparency
2 / 12
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Lack of Controversies
6 / 6
Download report
Other years
Year Rank Total score
2023 3 / 50 26 / 48
2022 5 / 54 23 / 48
2021 13 / 50 16 / 48
2020 12 / 35 15 / 48