Planting New Forests in Fort Saskatchewan

With so many fertilizer experts at Nutrien, it may seem like common knowledge that for every ton of fertilizer produced, 5 tons of the mineral gypsum are also produced. Even if it’s widely known, that’s a staggering number! While fertilizer manufacturers often consider this a waste product to be discarded in large, desolate stacks on company property, the Nutrien facility at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta has been working on ways to put it to use to help the environment. 

One effective solution to this waste was discovered by Nutrien scientists in collaboration with the Canadian Forest Service and the University of Alberta. Their idea was to use the gypsum stacks as foundations for new fields and forests. The concept involves planting over the gypsum stacks in a process called “Gypstack reclamation.” A handful of Nutrien sites have begun using this method, which creates new forests and restores the natural ecosystem of the area. In Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, this novel use of a waste byproduct caught the eye of the Canadian Museum of Nature.

This year, Nutrien’s Fort Saskatchewan facility was identified as a national finalist of the Nature Inspiration Awards, given each year by the Canadian Museum of Nature for a variety of environmental achievements. The Fort Saskatchewan team were finalists in the Large Business category, which recognizes innovation in the development of “green” products, as well as environmental stewardship programs. 

From a press release by The Canadian Museum of Nature featured on “Unlike past years, these 2020 awards are being announced at a time when access to nature, and a healthy connection with the natural world, seem more important than ever. Each of the finalists lead by example and inspire us in supporting a sustainable future,” says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature and Chair/ex-officio member of the selection jury. “We are pleased to recognize the efforts of our finalists, and even though we are forgoing our usual celebration gala, we look forward to acknowledging their achievements.”

The process of gypstack reclamation not only restores forests, but also helps in efforts to combat global warming. The newly planted forests on the gypsum stacks become part of the process known as “carbon sequestration,” which happens when plants pull carbon out of the atmosphere and use it for their growth and development. This process takes millions of tons of harmful greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere each year, and is key to preventing further climate change in the future. 

Nutrien is very proud of the efforts of scientists and researchers that continue to innovate and utilize every part of the fertilizer manufacturing process for a better world. We congratulate the team at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, for their recognition by the Canadian Museum of Nature for their hard work to restore the environment! 

Read the full list of the finalists here. – Building Forests from Phosphogypsum