How will Bonsucro make a difference?
Bonsucro has helped decarbonise the sugarcane sector over the past 10 years as a voluntary sustainability certification system and as a change platform.
Standards and Certification Drives Change
Bonsucro Production Standards apply to sugarcane farming and milling, and compliance is assessed by third party licensed auditors. Environmental issues cover water usage, soil health, safeguarding sensitive ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots, climate resilience, use of agrochemical and fertilisers. The social priorities relate to labour, workers’ safety and living conditions, non-discrimination, wages, and more.
The Chain of Custody Standard ensures the traceability of sustainability claims along the supply chain from farm to end user. They are based on five fundamental principles and provide proof of responsible sourcing and trading.
GHG Mitigation in Bonsucro Certified Farms and Mills
Scientific models indicate that global adoption of the Bonsucro Standard would halve GHG emissions, reduce water use by 65% and nutrient loading by 34%. Although universal Bonsucro certification may not be achievable, the data provides insights for a roadmap to reduce environmental impact with the Bonsucro Standard.
Over 130 mills have implemented Bonsucro Standards over the last 10 years and are certified. Collectively they have significantly reduced key sources of GHG emissions at the sugarcane production and processing.
Audit data from Bonsucro-certified producers indicates year-on-year reductions in GHG emissions and water use. This is supported by third-party research. One study that uses a sample of Bonsucro-certified mills and farmers in Brazil indicated a 31% reduction in GHG emissions at farm level and 20% in mills over the first four years of certification. The same study showed that certification also leads to reductions in water, fertiliser and herbicide use and pre-harvest sugarcane burning.
Bonsucro certification data shows that on average, mills reduce their CO2 emissions by 5.5% after just one year of certification. Bonsucro has also found that certified operators collectively avoided approximately 200 million kg CO2 from entering the atmosphere during their first year of certification – which equates to planting 10 million pine trees to absorb carbon dioxide.
Bonsucro-certified operations globally exceed their target yields by an average of 8.65 additional tonnes of sugarcane per hectare. This means more productivity within the same sugarcane land, avoiding new GHG emissions caused by land use change.
Enabling climate adaptation
Bonsucro certified sugarcane producers must create annual objectives, internal policies, procedures and monitoring practices for topics such as land-use change, agrochemicals, fuel use, burning, and biodiversity preservation. The maintenance of a management system means producers are more prepared to deal with environmental risks and the potential impacts of climate change. To support the sector to mitigate their environmental impact, we have developed practical and unique tools.
The Bonsucro calculator enables sugarcane producers to collect production data and monitor environmental performance against all criteria in the Production Standard, including GHG emissions. The data is invaluable for climate action interventions as it’s possible to undertake a gap analysis and see exactly which areas of production comply and which areas need to adapt to make improvements.
Smallholder farm diaries
The Smallholder Standard is for sugarcane producers with less than 25 hectares of land. They create a farm diary where they gradually add data on environmental criteria, including sources of GHG emissions, such as agrochemicals, water for irrigation, and transportation. It’s on a smaller scale than the calculator to make it more accessible.
Designed to work in conjunction with certification, this digital tool helps companies improve sustainable sugarcane sourcing by mapping and assessing suppliers against key environmental, human rights, and value chain performance indicators It helps buyers identify risks in their supply chain and support producers to become more sustainable.
Decarbonisation with sugarcane
Sugarcane is a versatile crop and plays a role in developing a low carbon economy. It is a source of renewable energy in the form of bioethanol, biogas, biomass and as a raw material for bioplastics and biomaterials.
As a clean, affordable and low-carbon biofuel, sugarcane ethanol has emerged as a leading renewable fuel for the transportation sector. Ethanol contributes to decarbonising transport when it is used in its pure for, or when it’s blended with gasoline. Ethanol produces up to 90% less GHG emissions compared to fossil fuels, performing better than any other liquid biofuel produced today on a commercial scale. Sugarcane ethanol has been a mainstream fuel in Brazil since the 1970’s and replaced over 3.20 billion barrels of gasoline between 1975 and 2020 . Other countries are now establishing ethanol mandates towards a cleaner energy matrix for transport, such as China and India.
With the best farming and milling practices, exemplified in the Bonsucro Production Standard, sugarcane can also help to decarbonise the Agriculture and Land Use Change and Forestry sectors.
How Bonsucro drives innovation
Beyond driving sustainability through standards and certification, we have a unique convening role for the sector, enabling pre-competitive collaboration and cross-sector partnering through:
Our projects span key origins and cover diverse issues, like payment for environmental services and reducing the risk of child labour. We are currently developing a methodology in South Africa using data from Bonsucro, the Better Cotton Initiative and the Alliance for Water Stewardship to inform decision makers at banks on the sustainability profiles of their clients, enabling them to reward sustainable business practices.
We are a founding member of the Adelante Initiative, to raise awareness and ways to mitigate the impact of heat stress on field workers, made worse by climate change. We are also aligning our assurance system with RenovaBio, the Brazilian biofuel policy, to boost sustainable farming practices, reduce GHG emissions and promote biofuels.
We support buyer members to calculate their scope 3 GHG data from their certified suppliers and help them identify where they can create a roadmap to make reductions. We deliver webinars on topical issues such as how to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, and how to prevent child labour in the supply chain.