November 7, 2011

Sugar/Ethanol mills in Brazil Receive Sustainability Certification

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The Union of Sugarcane Industries (UNICA) recently announced that seven sugar/ethanol mills in Brazil have been granted the seal of approval by the Better Sugarcane Initiative as having sustainable production and processing practices. UNICA indicated that the review process started just four months ago and they expect more mills to qualify for the seal of approval in the coming weeks. The approval from the Better Sugarcane Initiative is important for any company that wants to export their products to the European Union.

The Better Sugarcane Institute was created in 2005 as a way to establish criteria for best production practices and social/environmental sustainability in worldwide sugarcane production. The institute, which is headquartered in London, serves to foster dialogue between producers, processors, non-governmental organizations, traders, consumers, companies and investors involved in sugarcane production and processing as a way to develop sustainable sugarcane production.

In addition to producers, the organization unites non-governmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, Ethical Sugar, Solidaridade and companies such as Cargill, Bacardi, Cadbury, Schweppes, British Petroleum, and Coca-Cola in order to develop practices acceptable to all the stakeholders. The institute is also involved in reviewing and giving its stamp of approval to trading companies and end users as well.

The Brazilian sugarcane industry, as well as other agricultural industries in Brazil, has been working very hard in recent years to avoid the impression that the only way they can expand their operations is by wholesale destruction of the Amazon Forest. The soybean producers, coffee producers, cattle ranchers, etc. have all strived to develop sustainable production practices in order to mitigate environmental damage. Their efforts seem to be paying off as the rate of deforestation in Brazil continues to decline.

Brazil has a unique situation because more than half of the country still has its original vegetation yet the country is seen as one of the last places on earth where agricultural expansion could occur. The trick of course is to allow for agricultural expansion to occur, but with minimal environmental impact.