Better Sugarcane Initiative (BSI)

Aerial shot of sugar cane. rel=
Sugar grown close to estuary mouth, South Africa.
© WWF-Canon / WWF Intl./Rachel Wiseman
Managing social and environmental risks is important for sugarcane growers, processors and food companies due to regulatory pressures as well as shareholder and consumer expectations for sustainably-produced goods.

Additionally with prices of petroleum rising, ethanol from sugarcane is a growing market.
To date many industries have been unable to extend their social and environmental corporate profile to the way in which sugarcane is cultivated and processed.

While many national or local producer groups have high social and environmental production guidelines, there is not a global set of sustainable-sugar practices, principles and criteria by which industries, companies and investors alike can define their sugar interests.

What is the Better Sugarcane Initiative?
The Better Sugarcane Initiative (BSI) is a collaboration of sugar retailers, investors, traders, producers and NGOs who are committed to sustainable sugar by establishing principles and criteria that are applied in the sugar growing regions of the world through regionally specific strategies and tools.

The BSI aims to reduce the impact of sugarcane production on the environment in measurable ways that will also enable sugar production in a manner that contributes to social and economic benefits for sugar farmers and all others concerned with the sugar supply chain. 


What is the goal of BSI?

The goal is, through the encouragement of better management practices (BMP’s), to reduce farm and other sugar processing impacts.

The BSI recognises that BMP’s can only be a means to an end however and not the end itself. Incremental improvement through the establishment of dynamic and ever improving benchmarks and baselines is the overall objective.

The BSI recognises the opportunities and limitations of BMP’s as a tool for environmental management and improving overall environmental performance and reducing waste in a world where reduced impacts are demanded by governments, investors, buyers and NGO’s.

The BSI sees BMP’s as a tool for producers to increase their competitiveness in markets that are becoming increasingly competitive. The BSI is interested in building capacity.


What are the social and environmental impacts of sugarcane?
Sugarcane is a water intensive crop that remains in the soil for 12 months of the year using approximately one million litres of water to produce 12.5 tonnes of commercial cane.

Some sugarcane is grown on steep hillsides without terracing, resulting in the loss of topsoil from the farm and a high sediment load in rivers and estuaries.

There is evidence that a mono-culture crop has an adverse effect on soil, health and fauna.  [ More on this... ]


Why sugarcane?
While sources of sugar include beet, differences in production and processing practices for beet and cane would necessitate different guidelines.

The Better Sugarcane Initiative (BSI) is focused on sugarcane due to its global prevalence... sugarcane is grown in 103 countries and accounts for 60-70% of sugar production, a figure which is expected to grow as the EU Sugar Regime is reformed and biofuels become prominent on the global market.

The Better Sugarcane Initiative (BSI) is a collaboration of sugar retailers, investors, traders, producers and NGOs who are committed to sustainable sugar production.

Contact

David Williers
Project Manager,  BSI
text / ©: WWF
Join the Better Sugarcane Initiative Today
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sugarcane is grown in 103 countries and accounts for 60-70% of sugar production

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