Recycling – we’ve all heard the term before. When we recycle paper and plastic, we keep it out of landfills. The Phosphate Innovation Initiative supports industry-wide efforts to recycle phosphogypsum, also known as PG. Currently, PG is stored using gypstacks in Florida, and sustainable use opportunities are being developed that benefit the economy and the environment.
Recycling phosphogypsum through innovative use opportunities will keep PG out of gypstacks, and give it a useful life. Phosphogypsum can be used to build roads, replant forests and even contains certain rare earth elements that can be extracted and put to use. Productively using PG may eventually result in smaller and less visible gypstacks. Recycling phosphogypsum stored in places like Polk County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County and Hamilton County will benefit the environment. As gypstacks get smaller or become obsolete, more land will become available for conservation and wildlife habitat.
The innovative use potential of PG is a tremendous opportunity for sustainable development. 55 different beneficial use opportunities for PG have been discovered by scientists and industry. For example, roads constructed with phosphogypsum that is stored in Florida gypstacks would be of the same quality as those built with conventional materials, with the added benefit of using recycled materials that are immediately available. These innovative uses would reduce the need for expanded operations elsewhere that would extract finite natural resources resulting in a net benefit to the environment.
Globally, more than twenty countries have already begun recycling phosphogypsum and are turning PG into useful products. If they can do it, so should the United States. When we use PG stored in gypstacks, we can rebuild critical American infrastructure. Our farmers are the best in the world, and PG can help them grow more crops. Check out this minute and a half long video that explores the innovative use potential of PG stored in gypstacks
The Phosphate Innovation Initiative supports the ambitious goal of more recycling and a zero waste future. Everyone already knows that the most effective way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place. Nationwide, 1.7 billion tons of PG is stored in gypstacks, available for use.
Innovative technologies, economics and environmental factors have aligned to influence the future of phosphogypsum in ways not forseen thirty years ago. As Florida’s traditional phosphate operations continue to produce PG, which is stored in Polk County gypstacks and Hillsborough County gypstacks, science and industry will continue to look for new ways to safely put it to beneficial use.