The Agropalma group operates in the Amazon region, the largest rainforest in the world, representing almost 60% of the total country’s area and considers its preservation essential to the planet. In this context, we believe that processes that drive our value chain are directly linked to people’s performance in the organization based in solid social responsibility and respect for the environment.
Since the late 1990's, the Agropalma Group invested in the improvement of its socio-environmental performance, through:
Among several important environmental aspects, the management of water resources deserves special attention. Agropalma is committed to optimize water consumption and keep its quality. Our consumption target since 2011 is 4.5 tons of water per ton of oil produced. As noted below, since 2013, average water consumption has been rising, and in 2016, the target has been exceeded. This situation was caused by the inauguration of the new mill PARAPALMA, which started in mid-2015 and has not reached full processing capacity yet, increasing the water consumption intensity last years.
However, rather than conforming with this new scenario, Agropalma industrial team is facing the challenge of bringing water consumption under the target by 2023, through the adoption of new technologies and management practices, aiming to reduce water consumption of even while the new mill does not reach its full capacity. It is not an easy task, and in 2018 and 2019 our mills consumed 5.7 and 5.6 m3 of water per ton of CPO, respectively.
Regarding palm oil mills effluents (POME), we are committed to make the best economic use of them and minimize risks of watercourses contamination. Therefore, in 2019, as well as since company was founded, we have used 100% of the treated effluents as liquid fertilizers in our plantations, what means we have zero POME discharges in the water bodies. In addition, as recorded in our sustainability reports, we monitor phosphorus and nitrogen levels in eight carefully chosen watercourses. This monitoring aims to verify if our plantations or mills are causing any damage to water quality. In this case, the goal is to meet the legal limits of 3.7 mg/L for nitrogen and 1.0 mg/L for phosphorus. Below, we present the analytical results for 2018 and 2019.
In 2018, all nitrogen and phosphorus values were below the legal limit, as happened in previous years. In 2019, the Point 2´s results exceeded the limit for N and P, but it wasn´t possible to identify a clear cause for the high levels. Considering that no dead fish were found, and that all other results were in line with expected levels of N and P, we concluded that the level increase in this particular point could have been caused by some animal excrement or plant decomposition in the water at the time of sample collection. Despite this, we kept monitoring this watercourse with weekly visits, and we did not recorded any signs of abnormality.
Company also takes care about the palm oil refinery effluents (PORE). In both of our refinery units (Belém and Limeira), 100% of the effluents are pumped to proper treatment stations where they pass through chemical and biological processes, becoming clean before being released into the rivers.
Also aiming to prevent negative impacts on water bodies. Agropalma prioritize weeds pests and diseases management using non-chemical methods as biological control, such as traps, mechanical eradication among others. In 2019 the only chemicals used were three herbicides for weeds control. The only pesticide used is glyphosate, for the control of weeds.
We report pesticide use by tracking toxicity per hectare rather than volumes. This allows us to monitor any changes year after year and track performance against our industry peers, regardless of formulation changes or the type of pesticide used. The volumes used vary according to the planting cycle, as younger palms require more frequent applications. We can attribute the resulting increase to replanting that has taken place over the past five years.