Sweet news for environment

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: The environment got some sweet news today when a Brazilian sugar mill brought the first certified environmentally and socially sustainable sugar and ethanol to market.

“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 fuel tanks, too.

Thirsty crop

But sugar cane is also one of the world’s thirstiest crops with the potential to have major impacts on water supply and quality and highly sensitive ecosystems and regions such as the Mekong and Brazil’s Atlantic Forest and even offshore corals including Australia's Great Barrier Reef. 

Securing market recognition for sustainably grown sugar is a key means of reducing the crop's impact and is the basis of  Bonsucro,  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 - including human rights issues.  Importantly, the standard builds in markers for continual improvement in social and environmental performance.

Better sugarcane

The Raízen Maracaí Mill in Sao Paulo, Brazil was the first to achieve certification for its production, 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.

“Brazil has show great leadership in driving the industry toward a more sustainable business model," said Ogorzalek.

"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.”

“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,” .


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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

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