FMC Sustainability

Our Commitment to Sustainability

Our Products

Our people enable FMC to deliver innovations that help meet the world’s nutrition needs and reduce global dependence on petroleum-based energy. With safety embedded in everything we do, FMC focuses on each product’s impact – from its source, through the supply chain to its use by customers and consumers.

With the global population expected to increase by 25 percent in the next 35 years, not only will many more people need to be fed, but there will be less farmland available for cultivation due to urbanization. Climate change will continue to have significant agricultural implications making the current food scarcity situation even more severe.

Increased agricultural productivity and greater access to nutritious diets are among the solutions needed to address our major global challenge of food scarcity issues. FMC’s focus is on understanding the needs and challenges of farmers as well as consumer companies that develop necessary food staples, energy solutions and health care products while preserving scarce environmental resources.

By 2015, we intended to focus at least 50 percent of our research and development (R&D) spend to address these societal needs. In 2015, we surpassed this goal reaching 67 percent of R&D spend targeted to impact our major global challenges. We believe this focused product development and investment will amplify our ability to create shared value.


Learn More About Innovation Centers and Initiatives at FMC

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Product Innovations: Assessing Sustainable Products from Concept to Market

We continue to increase sales of sustainable products. We have defined a “sustainable product” as one that provides a measurable improvement over existing market solutions – by addressing at least one of the five identified global challenges – without retreating in performance against any of the others.

We developed a process to bring new products from concept to reality, and each of our businesses is responsible for developing an assessment tool that holds us accountable to our “sustainable product” definition. Our goal is to spur new ideas and allow clear, consistent evaluation of product potential. Most importantly, our approach enables richer conversations with our customers during the product development phase, as many of them are attempting to create offerings that answer these same market trends.

Such sustainability-driven process improvements enable us to identify and advance projects that create a sustainability advantage. We are excited about the resulting opportunities for growth and the social impact we can effect with this focused approach. This effort will help to ensure a robust development pipeline to support the continued growth of FMC.


View An Illustrative Example From FMC New Product Development Process

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Advancing Biological Alternatives

FMC is looking to nature for guidance in advancing agricultural solutions. It is through this lens that we are exploring biologicals – materials derived from renewable plant and/or microbial sources. Biologicals improve soil health, foster seed germination, increase growth of plants, allow for better management of nutrients, fight diseases and insects and increase crop resistance to stressed environmental conditions. This direction complements our continued exploration and production of synthetic agricultural solutions which together with biologicals form the basis of a successful integrated crop management strategy.

Biologicals Explained

What are biological products? Biologicals are materials derived from renewable plant or microbial sources.

What makes microbes (or bacteria) an ecologically sound starting point for R&D? Bacteria are incredibly abundant in the ground. There are up to 10,000 bacterial species and over 100 million bacterial cells per gram of soil in and around plant roots.1 Just like the microbes in our bodies, micro-organisms have similar beneficial roles in plants. Micro-organisms live in and on the plants, on the roots and in the soil, where they maintain a synergistic relationship with their “plant hosts.” These microbes impart benefits such as faster seed germination, increased root development and uptake of water and nutrients, and increased plant vigor, biomass production, fruit growth, disease protection and resilience against conditions such as frost and drought.

How does FMC find specific microbes of interest for crop protection? At FMC’s Center of Excellence for Agricultural Biosolutions at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, we have isolated over 2,100 strains of bacteria for study, determining their potential beneficial performance through the Center’s advanced screening process. Strains of interest progress into more extensive field screening before moving into large-scale field trials.

What are the advantages of using biologicals in agricultural chemical products? Biologicals improve soil health, foster seed germination, increase growth of plants, allow for better management of nutrients, fight diseases and insects, and increase crops’ resistance under stressed environmental conditions. When certain biological material is combined with smaller doses of one or more chemicals, they can offer multiple modes of action, including the natural ability to respond to specific threats. When used as a part of integrated pest management, biologicals can help to decrease the risk of resistance against major chemical active ingredients.

Why is it necessary to use any crop protection chemicals when planting? Biological and synthetic-based chemicals are highly effective in protecting crops from disease, pests and weeds. Their use can also increase crop quality and yield. This is important because the world’s growing population is experiencing food shortages that will only increase in severity as population grows. According to the United Nations World Food Program2, feeding a global population that is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050 will require that agricultural yields increase by 70-100 percent.

What is the difference between biologicals and genetic modification? In genetically modified crops, the DNA is modified to introduce a new trait to the plant that does not occur naturally. In the development of FMC’s agricultural biologicals, there is no modification of the plant’s or the microbe’s genetic structure. We are drawing upon nature’s natural potential to create solutions to improve plant health and productivity.

Who stands to gain from the use of biologicals? Consumers will see safer, more environmentally friendly options. Growers will gain new modes of action, little or no residues and better yields.

What is the future of biologically derived active ingredients in agriculture? Growers of fruits, vegetables, and row crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton and rice are seeking more environmentally friendly chemical solutions. Biologicals will also be increasingly used in private homes and gardens as well as professional applications including golf courses and landscaping.

1Source: American Society for Microbiology, How Microbes can Help Feed the World
2Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture


Learn More About Our Strategic Partnership For Biological Alternatives

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As we expand our capabilities as a unified BioSolutions business, our team focuses its research on real customer needs. The biological discovery platform begins with “smart selection,” an approach that brings customer-driven innovation to life and allows for rapid response to emerging concerns. The location of our Center of Excellence for Agricultural BioSolutions on the Campus of RTI International in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park lets us access unique technical skills available at a leading research institute, world class universities, global businesses and technology start-ups.

Natural Ingredients

To satisfy consumer expectations for more nutritious and natural foods, FMC is exploring ways to supply more sustainable, renewable food ingredients, enabling greater access to nutrients. With more than 75 years of experience in the business, our expertise helps customers around the world maintain their competitive position in the market using natural ingredients and colors. In addition to addressing consumer preferences, we help our customers use these products to increase the amount of protein in affordable foods and reduce requirements for refrigeration in the supply chain.

As part of a strategic expansion of our natural ingredients business, in 2013, FMC made acquisitions that enhanced our natural food ingredient product portfolio:

  • South Pole Biogroup Ltda., a Chilean-based natural color and specialty nutrition ingredients supplier.
  • Phytone Ltd., a leading natural colors producer based in the United Kingdom.

FMC works alongside our customers to better serve local markets through 11 food laboratories in strategic locations around the world. To support growing demand in rapidly developing economies, FMC opened food labs in Singapore, Chile, India and Russia. This diversity of research locations enables us to provide customers with unique chemistries and customized solutions that align with local consumer demand, while adding value to the innovation process through the exchange of ideas and outcomes between the labs.


Learn More About Our Natural Product Lines

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The Salt That’s Shaking Up Our Energy Future

FMC has been developing lithium ion battery technology since 1991. The technology is used in portable electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and power tools. In recent years, this technology has enabled the development of a broad range of hybrid electric and full electric vehicles. Today we are the second largest supplier of lithium in the world, and the world’s number one supplier of lithium hydroxide and lithium chloride used in rechargeable and non-rechargeable battery applications respectively.

Our lithium research facility in Bessemer City, North Carolina is focused on lithium chemistry innovation within a battery cell. Here, FMC scientists and engineers develop new product concepts, such as our Stabilized Lithium Metal Powder (SLMP®), that are creating step change improvements to electric vehicles’ travel range and battery life.

FMC’s lithium resources and proprietary lithium technology are helping to usher in a new generation of vehicle batteries. Lithium, the lightest metal, stabilized in ultrapure salt compounds, has the ability to store and release energy in a manner that is unsurpassed by any other known material. Used to assist or replace the internal combustion engine, lithium batteries can help reduce carbon emissions and dependence on oil. As such, it is making the vision of electric vehicles (EVs) a reality.

At the heart of FMC’s lithium sustainability story is our knowledge and patented technologies related to the efficient production of high purity lithium products. Higher purity means more robust performance: an extra hour of power or an added year of battery life – both of which are critical to enabling EVs to replace today’s conventional vehicles.

Product Safety and Stewardship

Our three businesses (FMC Agricultural Solutions, FMC Health and Nutrition and FMC Lithium) incorporate appropriate health, safety, security and environmental factors into their product lifecycles. Our holistic approach starts with design and development and extends through manufacturing, distribution, storage, end use, and final recycle or disposal. Along the way, those who handle the products are provided with information and training on hazards and safe handling practices.

In 2014, FMC confirmed with ACC our implementation of the first three elements of the Product Safety Code of Management Practices: leadership commitment, accountability and management, and prioritization of products. In 2015 we implemented the next four elements, including product information, risk characterization, product safety management and management of new information. The Product Safety Code provides Management Practices so that companies can “evaluate, demonstrate and continuously improve their product safety performance, while also making information about chemical products available to the public.” In conjunction with our Responsible Care commitment, we are implementing the remaining four management practices in 2016.

FMC uses a variety of tools to help ensure that safety information and knowledge reach those who need it, starting with required documentation such as the Safety Data Sheet and product label.

Depending on the degree of hazard and potential for exposure, FMC also provides a range of information, including some of the items below:

  • Customer education initiatives
  • Technical brochures and risk information
  • Safe handling guidelines and recommendations for the use of protective equipment
  • Training in safe handling practices
  • Technical support
  • Order screening to ensure customer qualification
  • Tracking of customer issues and incidents to identify areas for improvement
  • On-site customer visits

Training our Customers on Safe Use

In 2015, FMC trained approximately 400,000 growers in Asia and the Americas to promote the importance of the safe handling, transport, storage, use and disposal of agricultural products. Farmers, distributors and FMC employees participated in educational sessions on safety, including management of emergency situations. Safety audits were conducted at several warehouses and contract manufacturing sites. In Brazil, all warehouses implemented new procedures to ensure prevention of product cross-contamination.

As with all FMC businesses, FMC Agricultural Solutions incorporates health, safety, security and environmental considerations into every stage of a product’s life cycle. In our labeling, safety data sheets, product education and other technical assistance, FMC provides the information farmers need to use our products safely. FMC technical experts conduct training meetings with distributors, farmers and applicators on the safe and responsible use of our products. We communicate with our distributors and customers about the latest information on our products, their intended uses, legal requirements, and the consequences of misuse.

We delivered SmartCalda in Brazil, an advanced agricultural technology that improves on our TechnoCalda offering. The new service enables preparation and mixing of water and agrochemicals in a contained system that avoids direct interaction with an operator. The system minimizes the chance of errors and lowers the risk of human and environmental exposure. This technology was implemented in partnership with six sugar cane mills in 2015.

In our natural colors business in Health and Nutrition, we improved shipping and handling safety in 2015. We verified that all containers met approved standards, updated transportation labels and provided hazardous material training.

In Lithium, stewardship assessments and training are integral to our product management and new product development. FMC continued to educate customers and equipment suppliers about hygiene and safe handling guidelines for Stabilized Lithium Metal Powder. We completed hazardous material training for all lithium metal customers, transitioned to a globally-unified emergency response system and received ISO- 14001 recertification at our Bessemer City plant in North Carolina.

7 Habits of Responsibility

We conduct product stewardship training focused on imparting our seven habits of responsibility, a simple set of easy-to-understand, easy-to-remember steps to make safety and responsibility a daily habit for anyone working with chemicals, especially farmers. The socially innovative aspect of this messaging is in the delivery. Rather than only communicating the habits directly with the farmers, we bring the message into homes, schools and local businesses in order to create an understanding and appreciation of safety practices throughout the broader community where our farmers live. The seven habits are:

  • Use only registered pesticides and always read the label
  • Wear personal protective equipment
  • Properly maintain and calibrate equipment
  • Triple rinse empty containers and properly dispose of them
  • Store pesticides securely in their original containers
  • Transport pesticides safely and have spill kits available
  • Practice personal hygiene after using pesticides

Pollinator Health

Pollinating bees are an essential part of agriculture and FMC strives to not jeopardize them with our products. We thoroughly test our products and establish use directions on our labels to avoid problems impacting pollinating bees and other beneficial insects. Pollinator health is a complex issue and there are multiple factors other than pesticide use that are contributing to this problem such as mites, viruses, fungi, bacteria, decreasing habitat for foraging, diet and nutrition, beekeeping management practices, and sub-optimal weather.

FMC is concerned about pollinator health and we take environmental stewardship very seriously. We care about the environment as part of our commitment to providing the best possible solutions for our customers and, along with our trade organizations, will continue to monitor the pollinator situation. We actively monitor the latest research in this area and are conducting more extensive research on our products.

FMC’s product stewardship involves extensive distributor and farmer training on agricultural products with which bees might inadvertently come in contact. We consider potential bee toxicity before bringing any new insecticide to market and are developing more naturally based agricultural products to ensure that any risk to biodiversity is minimized.

Our Commitment to Animal Welfare

Many of our newly developed products require animal testing as a condition of regulatory approval by government agencies. FMC takes animal testing seriously and strives to limit such testing. We continue to have discussions with an animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA), on alternatives to common animal testing methods and strategies for using other scientifically relevant information to negate the need for additional animal testing. In 2013 we published an Animal Welfare and Testing Policy that defined our guiding principles and commitment to the “3 Rs” of animal testing:

  • Replace animal tests with alternative methods when feasible.
  • Reduce the number of animal tests when feasible.
  • Refine animal test methods to make them as humane as possible.

Review our Animal Welfare and Testing Policy here.

Food Science Matters

Food science – the study of the nature of foods and the changes that occur in them naturally and as a result of handling and processing – helps feed a growing population worldwide. It involves maintaining and even enhancing the nutrients, taste, texture and longevity of foods under certain conditions. This, in turn, enables us to address some of the world’s most pressing problems, beginning with working to meet the basic nutrition needs of people everywhere.

FMC food technology helps deliver vital nutrients in infant formulas, nut milks, yogurts and other products in a consistent way. It also keeps products stable in fluctuating temperatures, which can be a serious challenge as products are transported to markets in developing economies. Advanced technology behind FMC food science helps feed the world’s growing and hungry population.

FMC leverages sound science to enhance nutrient availability, enable foods to last longer and ensure the safety of every ingredient. Through extensive experimentation, rigorous regulatory reviews and ongoing testing and observation, we control the quality and integrity of our food ingredients to ensure they have broad and safe applications.

Because food matters to everyone, FMC has a website to explain how research into food enhancements lead to a safe and healthy food supply. Explore food science at:

Valuing Sustainability Certifications

Our FMC Health and Nutrition business uses sustainability certifications as a factor in screening suppliers. Certification by Friends of the Sea is required for all of our fish oil, and we are working with the New England Aquarium to develop best management practices for sustainable seaweed production. Additionally, one of our stabilizing food ingredients, microcrystalline cellulose, is derived from wood pulp. To counter the threat of deforestation we ask pulp suppliers to confirm that their forest sources are sustainably managed using a standard such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council or other externally verified, globally accepted standards.

FMC has built a reputation as a responsible and reliable supplier of quality products because we carefully and systematically manage risks that might impact our integrity in the marketplace. We believe our customers’ brands deserve complete protection and we take steps to provide that protection not only in our manufacturing but also in procurement.

Learn more about our Health & Nutrition supply chains here. 

FMC Global R&D Facilities

FMC is expanding its commitment to developing and providing innovative solutions to meet our customers’ and the wider global public’s growing needs. Our research and development efforts are taking place across the globe, taking specific regional and cultural needs into account. Explore the dynamic map below to learn more about our global R&D footprint.