Sweet news for environment as sustainable sugar comes to market

Posted on 21 June 2011
In Uganda, waragi is distilled from sugar cane. In other parts of Africa it is distilled from cassava, bananas or millet.
© WWF / Martin Harvey
Sao Paulo, Brazil: A mill in Sao Paulo, Brazil has become the first to have its sugar cane production certified under the new Bonsucro sustainability standard.

“This will change the sugar cane industry forever,” said Kevin Ogorzalek, WWF-US programme officer and Chairman of the Bonsucro Board.

“Sugar is everywhere, on our tables, in our drinks, and in the food we eat. Increasingly sugar cane is in our gas tanks, too. This is why we work with influential market leaders to help ensure key commodities like sugar cane are grown in a manner that assures more sustainable use of natural resources. Through our markets-based approach, WWF will continue working with industry to grow the standard and help preserve the critical habitats at the core of our mission.”

Major impacts in Brazil and Mekong

Sugar cane is one of the world’s thirstiest crops. Its production can have major impacts on the water supply and quality, globally, and on the ecosystems where it is produced. Major production areas for sugar cane include important global biodiversity regions such as the Mekong and Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Sugar cane is used as a table sugar, and in the production of foods, sweetened beverages, livestock feed, molasses, bioelectricity and biofuels.

The first certification against Bonsucro’s environmental and social sustainability standard covers production from the Raízen Maracaí Mill, covering more than 130,000 tonnes of sugar and 63,000 cubic metres of ethanol. The first buyer of certified sugar was the local Coca-Cola bottler.

Bonsucro is a global multi-stakeholder initiative dedicated to reducing the environmental and social impacts of sugar cane production which was developed from WWF’s long running Better Sugar Cane Initiative. The Bonsucro standard for better sugar cane management identifies and addresses the most significant social and environmental impacts from sugar cane production in the area of legal compliance, biodiversity and ecosystem impacts, human rights, production and processing, and establishes markers for continuous improvement.

“As part of our efforts to transform the global sugar market to a sustainable basis, WWF will now focus on promoting certification to Bonsucro standards with producers and work with industry leaders and major buyers to make sourcing commitments,” said Ogorzalek.

“Brazil has show great leadership in driving the industry toward a more sustainable business model. WWF remains committed to continue working closely with stakeholders in this region to monitor and continue to improve the standards to ensure they deliver real on the ground conservation results.”

In Uganda, waragi is distilled from sugar cane. In other parts of Africa it is distilled from cassava, bananas or millet.
© WWF / Martin Harvey Enlarge