PotashCorp spends a lot of time trying to be more than another mining company - it’s committed to safety, environmental responsibility, and safe transport of goods. The company fosters a culture of safety awareness – safety is so important it’s both an operational goal and a core value: achieve no harm to people and the environment. In fact, the company aims to be the safest resource company in the world by 2018.
For a company that takes safety seriously, it’s nice to know others think so too. PotashCorp recently received certification demonstrating its commitment to sustainability on a global level. At the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) Safety Summit in Vancouver, PotashCorp received IFA’s Protect and Sustain (P&S) certification, which is given to companies that take measures to source, manufacture, store, and transport products in a responsible manner.
P&S is the global product stewardship standard for fertilizers, developed by the industry with the assistance of external auditors. It allows companies to prove their commitment to high levels of safety, security, and sustainability. The benefits to P&S certification are numerous: safe working conditions, protected environment, safe communities, good reputation, increased profitability, and mitigated risk.
PotashCorp works throughout the supply chain to ensure product safety, quality and security. This means ensuring responsible business management practices are in place across a product’s lifecycle: from the source point through to transportation to the customer. For PotashCorp, certification can continue to drive confidence in operating communities, engage key stakeholders, and provide a platform to discuss operations and products.
This certification is extra special because it marks the first time an IFA member has been certified in as many locations as PotashCorp, and across all three nutrients in one attempt. The company had 16 locations product-certified across the three countries it has operations: Canada, United States and Trinidad. With this certification, PotashCorp becomes the newest member of the P&S Hall of Fame, a privilege given to only a select number of fertilizer companies.
Leading the certification process was Deborah L. Allen, PotashCorp’s Director of Product Stewardship and Security. Based out of the Northbrook, Illinois office, Allen is part of the team that has been actively involved with the certification and recognizes the significance it has for the company. “This certification is a demonstration of our citizenship and commitment as a global citizen,” says Allen. “Certification means PotashCorp is able to benchmark its performance against other fertilizer companies on a global scale. Companies need to communicate a commitment to product stewardship, and this is one way to do so.”
While safety and protection of the environment are expected of the industry, it’s also the number one driver of industry reputation. “With a strong reputation comes trust and with trust comes an ability or license to operate,” says Allen. “Stakeholders expect companies to operate safely and protect the environment, and these certifications demonstrate that PotashCorp is acting in such a manner.”
PotashCorp began the journey to P&S product-certification in 2013. The first step was to have all sites and offices complete a thorough self-assessment review which was then submitted to IFA. This review included an in-depth questionnaire where six areas were examined: management system, product development and planning, sourcing and contractor management, manufacturing techniques, supply chain to customer, and marketing, sales and application. The certification culminated with a third-party audit in early 2015 by SGS, a leader in global certification and testing standards.
SGS evaluated a sample of sites in Canada and the United States, including the Saskatoon and Northbrook corporate offices. This independent audit looked at policies and procedures for mining, processing, and transportation of nutrients groups to ensure compliance. SGS verified PotashCorp met IFA’s internationally recognized and accepted P&S standards, and the company received certification. Under IFA requirements, a re-evaluation is required to maintain certification, with auditors returning to assess the company at 18-month and 3-year intervals to ensure compliance.
Like many IFA members, PotashCorp recognizes that the reduction of accidents, waste and product misuse are the both the practice of good corporate citizens, and are critical to core business processes. This in turn minimizes exposure to incidents and the legal ramifications for the company, and avoids potential crippling future costs.
Building on the momentum from the P&S certification, the next step for the company is IFA’s Product Stewardship certification, which includes wider issues such as procurement, quality, security and transportation/distribution.
As PotashCorp meets the growing challenge to feed the world, staying at the forefront of global regulation and standards is crucial. While many parts of the world are moving to regulate safety processes, PotashCorp is proactively seeking certification now ahead of mandatory regulation. The company has raised the safety bar both internally and across the entire fertilizer industry. This makes safety everyone’s number one priority.