Bonsucro Production Standard transition policy now available

8th December 2022

The validity of version 4.2 of the Bonsucro Production Standard has been extended to 1 December 2023, meaning operators can choose which version of the Production Standard they are audited against. Today, we published a transition policy that outlines the rules and criteria supporting the decision of the extension.  

The table below offers an overview of the validity of the different standards until the end of 2023.  It highlights how the Standards will coexist during the transition period. It also outlines the timing for developing version 5.2 of the Standard which will launch in June 2023. The roll out phase in the second half of 2023 gives time for training and implementation before the auditing period starts in December 2023. 

Why was the version 4.2 of Bonsucro Production Standard extended? 

The Bonsucro Production Standard is the most globally recognised framework for sustainable sugarcane production. It is a comprehensive, metric tool that enables farmers and millers to improve and certify their practices as sustainable. But we understand that every sugarcane producer is at a different stage of their sustainability journey.  

Some sugarcane producers are being audited and certified against version 5.1 of the Bonsucro Production Standard. However, some producers felt they needed longer to prepare. Inclusivity is one of our core principles, so we listened to this feedback and have extended the validity of version 4.2 to accommodate all of our certified members. The year-long extension gives producers more time to prepare, use our training materials, and make the necessary changes. However, we urge our members to opt for version 5.1 of the Standard where possible. 

Since publishing the revised Standard, we have received reports of errors in the Standard. These range from typos to clarifications on time periods and units of measurements. We have tracked these in our errata log which is public and open for anyone to view. In order to address these, we have started an interim revision of version 5.1 of the Production Standard. In this process, we will improve the clarity of requirements within the Standard and its alignment with the Implementation Guide. The new extended transition period give us more time to ensure that the interim revision captures all the necessary changes.  

Version 5.1 of the Production Standard is preferred 

At the beginning of the year, we published version 5.1 of Bonsucro Production Standard after a comprehensive revision that included two multistakeholder consultations. The new Standard includes new requirements to address critical global risks such as greenhouse gas emissions, water, biodiversity, and respect for workers’ rights in the sugarcane sector. Version 5.1 of the Production Standard is our preferred version – we encourage operators to implement, be audited and be certified against this version, even during the transition period. 

In addition to improving indicators to address sustainability challenges, the new Standard has made existing indicators clearer and more precise. Several indicators have been split up to create more simple, achievable goals. For example, the previously required environmental impact management plan has been split into separate indicators on soil management, water management, agrochemical management, and biodiversity management. This enables producers to use the data gathered to shape environmental stewardship plans. 

What’s included in the transition policy? 

The Bonsucro Production Standard transition policy is designed to support operators and certification bodies with the extension of version 4.2 of the Production Standard. It will also support them to transition from version 4.2 to version 5.1 of the Bonsucro Production Standard.  

The policy outlines the rules of the transition period, for example, any projects run by Bonsucro that connect to the Production Standard will use version 5.1, and certification bodies will audit against the Production Standard chosen by the operator.  

The transition policy also includes rules for audits – for example it states that once an operator has been audited, “the subsequent audit shall be against the same or a newer version of the standard.” Or in other words, you cannot move backwards. This is to fit with our commitment to continuous improvement. 

We encourage all producers and certification bodies to download and read the transition policy carefully. We are translating the transition policy into Spanish and Portuguese and will publish those documents next week. 

Production Standard tools and supporting documents 

Our Standards and Assurance team have a rigorous quality management system (QMS) in place to ensure that all documents for our Standards are up to date and relevant. We have updated the Bonsucro Calculator for the version 4.2 (Calculator v4.1.6) and version 5.1 of the Bonsucro Production Standard (Calculator v5.1.4). These can be found on the certification tools page of our website. On this page you can also find documents such as our Certification Protocol, the Certification and Auditing Guidance, and a series of guides on High Conservation Value land, produced the HCV Network.  

All current and previous versions of our documents can be found in our QMS library. 

Further information on the transition policy 

To support members with the transition, we are hosting a series of webinars in English, Spanish, and Portuguese to present the transition policy and outline how the extension will work in practice. 

Sign up here: 

Spanish – 14 December 14:00 GMT 

English – 15 December 8:00 GMT 

Portuguese – 15 December 13:00 GMT 

Download the transition policy and visit the Production Standard page of our website for more information about the Standard and all certification tool and supporting documents.