The Phosphate Innovation Initiative is an effort by Florida’s phosphate producers to talk about the innovation that has occurred in the phosphate industry. A legacy industry, phosphate producers have been operating in the state for more than a century. Phosphate is an essential ingredient that farmers use to grow more crops – on fewer acres.
The Phosphate Innovation Initiative was launched by the Florida Phosphate Council as part of a discussion with the phosphate industry to develop sustainable uses for phosphogypsum, or PG for short. When we make phosphate, a phosphogypsum (PG) is produced as a byproduct. For more than thirty years, the federal government has required PG be stored in gypstacks. The Phosphate Innovation Initiative proposes recycling phosphogypsum (PG), which will keep it out of gypstacks and give it a useful life.
Gypstack systems are a heavily regulated, federal requirement for phosphogypsum (PG) storage. Today, PG is approved for limited use in agriculture and research, with more than fifty-five (55) productive uses discovered by researchers so far. Gypstacks in Florida contain approximately one (1) billion tons of PG and are also designed to collect rainfall and store process water so it can be recycled through the phosphate manufacturing process.
Gypstacks are shaped like flattened pyramids and are highly visible due to their size. The permitting process to build or extend a stack’s life takes years to complete. Importantly, communities and residents located in Polk County, Manatee County, Hillsborough County and Hamilton County are invited to participate in the gypstack permitting process.
The location of gypsum stacks are in a handful of counties located in Central and North Florida. Gypstacks are located in Polk County, Manatee County, Hillsborough County and Hamilton County. These locations have been home to phosphate manufacturing for many years, and stand to benefit from the Phosphate Innovation Initiative. PG currently stored in gypstacks could be repurposed for use in road construction, reforestation and help grow crops, which may reduce the footprint of gypstacks overtime and be a net benefit for the environment in these counties.
Sometimes, people wonder how many gypstacks are in Florida. There are twenty-five (25) gypstacks located in Florida. Twenty-two (22) gypstacks are concentrated in Polk, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties. Polk County is the location of Florida’s largest gypstack at the New Wales site, located near the City of Mulberry. Hamilton County has three gypstacks and a robust phosphate manufacturing industry.
How many gypstacks are in each county?
Here is a map of where gypstacks are located in Florida:
The innovative potential of PG is enormous, and the Florida Phosphate Council is excited to work with our friends and neighbors in Polk County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County and Hamilton County to ensure that the phosphate industry continues to safely and sustainably produce phosphate for America’s farmers, while providing good jobs and economic opportunity in Florida.
Learn more about the Phosphate Innovation Initiative at PhosphateInnovation.com.