Environment and recycling

Fertilizers do not harm the environment when they are applied correctly, but wrong application may cause runoff into waterways that increases uncontrolled growth of algae and contributes to eutrophication.

Wherever possible, fertilisers should be stored at least 10 meters away from a watercourse or field drain and well away (e.g. 50 meters) from a borehole, well etc. The correct use of spreading machines and proper disposal of spillage and bags will prevent run-off. Yara recommendations include advice on when to apply the fertiliser to maximize the plants uptake, thus reducing losses to the environment.

Fertilizer bag quality

The bags protect against humidity and mechanical stresses. They are made of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), paper or combinations of these materials are available (valve bags, fully “open” bags for melt sealing and stitching). Bags are made after given specifications: 

  • Weight of paper, layers of paper 
  • Thickness of plastic foil (PE) 
  • Fabric weight (woven PP) 
  • Strength and elongation 
  • Dimension 
  • Additives like UV-stabilizers

Recycling of fertilizer packaging

Bags should be emptied by shaking to remove as much of the content as possible. Empty bags may be disposed of as non-hazardous material or returned for recycling. In tests, bags emptied in this manner show only traces of residues and are considered non-hazardous. There are national guidelines that need to be followed regarding the recycling of packaging materials. Typical points to consider are:

  • Minimize the amount of waste packaging by using a pack size appropriate to the quantity of product required. 
  • Do not reuse empty packaging (bags) for refilling with fertilizer. 
  • Empty, triple rinse and drain all liquid product containers; dispose of rinse water safely, preferably into the spray tank at the time of use. 
  • Fully empty out powder packaging. 
  • Segregate the emptied packaging material according to its type.

Recycling of Fertilizer PackagingLook for the appropriate symbols when recycling: 

2: HDPE: High-Density Polyethylene 
HDPE is slightly waxy and semi-rigid. It does not crack. It floats in water. 

4: LDPE: Low-Density Polyethylene 
LDPE is used in flexible bags. Recycled LDPE is often used to make grocery bags. 

5: PP: Polypropylene 
PP stretches into filaments and emits a chemical smell when burned.

Defective fertilizer must be disposed in a secure matter as well. Even if it cannot be suitable for distribution with fertiliser application, it still contains valuable nutrients. Therefore, make sure that it is collected and used in the recommended way. If it cannot be used it should be treated as hazardous waste.