Bonsucro Standards and Assurance FAQ

Bonsucro Standards and Assurance FAQs

FAQS received from Bonsucro stakeholders on our Standards, Guidance, Protocol, Calculator, and other certification scheme documents. To download our comprehensive FAQ document, click below:

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Continuous improvement is core to our strategy and, in line with the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice, we update our Standards every five years. This thorough revision ensures it meets current social and environmental challenges, as well as expected challenges in the future.

All Bonsucro key documents are accessible in the QMS library of the Bonsucro website.The Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 and associated documents can also be downloaded from the Bonsucro website Production Standard page.

The Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 was launch on 17th January 2022. All audits carried out after 31st August 2022 must be carried out against the new Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1.

Between 1st April 2022 and 31st August 2022, the operator may choose to be audited against Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 or Bonsucro Production Standard v4.2. It is important that operators contact their Certification Bodies (CBs) to verify if the CB is ready to deliver audits against Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 before 1st September (availabilty, auditors fully re-qaulified to the new standard).

From 1st September 2022 all audits, i.e., initial, surveillance and recertification audits shall be carried out against Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1.

The Bonsucro Production Standard is still a metric standard, involving the collection of specific datapoints via the Bonsucro Calculator. The new standard also promotes a continuous improvement approach.

No, the operator can still decide which part of the supply area will be considered at audit to be included in the scope of certification. For the mill, the same principle still applies: standards indicators applicable to the mill are applicable to all mill activities. The new standard introduces four indicators which apply beyond the unit of certification.

This refers to areas supplying the mill but not included in the scope of certification. It may include areas which are owned or leased by the mill, external supplier’ production areas, smallholder farms, etc.

No, farms outside unit of certification will not be visited. Indicators applying to areas outside unit of certification aims at evaluating the mill’s ability to conduct a risk assessment and define actions to address the risks identified in the areas outside unit of certification.

Groups of smallholders certified (or applying for certification) against the Production Standard for Smallholder Farmers V1 independently from a mill or included in a mill certification will not be affected. The Production Standard for Smallholder farmers has not changed and is still applicable as it is. Bonsucro is considering a revision of the SHF standard, but the scope and timing of the revision are still to be confirmed.

On 14th March 2022, Bonsucro published a series of technical training videos covering all principles of the new Production Standard (v5.1). The videos are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and are supported by pdf documents in all three languages. The training videos are available free of charge on the Bonsucro website training page. No password is required to access the videos.

Bonsucro also offer regular live Q&A sessions to answer questions about the standard: for more information, please visit the event page.

Should you require tailored live training sessions, please contact one of the Trainings Providers licensed by Bonsucro. You can find a list of providers here.

Yes, all certification bodies (licensed and applicant) will be required to get relevant staff (lead auditors and technical managers) qualified against the Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 and Certification Protocol v6. This is also applicable to licensed traning providers. The first round of exams will run in April and May 2022. Bonsucro will liaise directly with these organisations to coordinate exams. Exams are only open to certification bodies and licensed training providers’ staff.

Fees applicable will depend on validity of current qualification certificate. Bonsucro will liaise directly with these organisations on applicable fees.

Yes, Bonsucro developed and published a new calculator: Bonsucro Calculator v5.1.2 It is available to download here.  Please note that the Bonsucro Calculator v5.1 is to be used in conjunction with Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1. For audits against the Bonsucro Production Standard V4.2, please continue using calculator 4.1.4.

No, Bonsucro still requires a 12-month period to be reported in the calculator. It still shall be the most recent 12-month period and may include a whole harvest season.

Yes, but the approach introduced by Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 is different from Bonsucro Production Standard v4.2. While Bonsucro Production Standard v4.2 requires operators to comply with legislations applicable, Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 indicator 1.3.1 requires the operator to have a system to promote compliance against all applicable legislation. This includes identifying applicable legislation, implementing it, tracking progress as well as changes to legislation, and promoting compliance. The approach is more comprehensive.

Living wage refers to a wage that is enough to maintain a normal standard of living. It may be under or meet the minimum wage of a country but not necessarily. Living wage refers to a theoretical income level that allows individuals or families to afford adequate shelter, food and other necessities, so it varies from one country to another. Living wage is defined in the Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1.

No, the Bonsucro Production Standard V5.1 does not require operators to close the gap between legal minimum wage and living wage. With the publication of this new standard, Bonsucro is starting to engage with the question of Living Wage. A Living Wage Working Group is being created to discuss this thematic over the next few years. Part of Bonsucro’s priorities is the adoption of a salary matrix to begin collecting data from its members in order to inform decisions on this topic in the future. Please note that version 5.1.1 of the calculator does not yet include a salary risk matrix to support said data collection. An update will be published by Bonsucro in the coming weeks.

Please note that this indicator is covered by the Transition Period Policy and benefits from an adapted transition pathway. For more information, view the transition policy here.

Indicator 2.1.1 now requires that mental and cognitive health issues be included in the Health & Safety hazards and risks assessment. These shall be identified, documented and assessed. A summary of the main H&S hazards and risks shall be made available to workers.

Heat stress is one of the Health & Safety hazards and risks that shall be assessed in the indicator 2.1.1. The implementation guidance document references the NIOSH methodology to evaluate heat stress associated risk.

No, if there is a country legislation for microbiological, physical and chemical parameters and other characteristics, the legislation must be followed.
The WHO defined critical parameters only apply if no legislation is in place (see Annex 4 of Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1).

Yes, it is covered in various indicators under criterion 4.1. The operator shall not expand area into natural ecosystems, protected areas or HCV areas. These shall not be converted into cane or other agriculture to prevent any loss of high biodiversity resources. For more detailed information, please refer to the standard’s exact wording.

Indicator 5.4.1 requires the operator to promote gender inclusion in management and other skilled positions. This indicator also requires the operator to conduct community-based women’s empowerment training.

If you have a contract with a certification body, please contact them with your question. Bonsucro encourages members to discuss standard interpretation with their certification bodies to protect the independence of the certification process. If you do not have a contract with a certification body (or if you are a certification body), e-mail Bonsucro through

Indicator 2.2.3 requires a premium rate to be paid for overtime that shall be at least 25%. If the local legislation requires different rates for different case scenarios (e.g. overtime during the day, overtime during the night, overtime during rest days, etc.) operators shall comply with all applicable premium rates. The calculator requires the operator to declare the lowest rate paid. However the auditors shall report the details of all applicable rates in the audit report. Please note that all matters relating to legislation will be assessed on indicator 1.3.1.

All these indicators refer to land conversion, but include different cut off dates, types of conversion and areas to be considered.
Indicator 4.1.3 refers to land conversion to agriculture on or after 1st January 2008: it is applicable to natural ecosystems defined internationally or nationally as legally protected.
Indicator 4.1.4 refers to land conversion to agriculture on or after 1st January 2021: it is applicable to other areas of natural ecosystems.
Indicator 4.1.5 refers to land conversion to cane following certification: it is applicable to HCV areas.

The operator shall only consider workers in management and skilled positions (at all levels and in all areas of operation).
The Bonsucro Implementation Guidance gives examples of skilled positions in the sugarcane sector: agriculture machinery drivers, agronomists, laboratory operators, line and senior management at mill and farm levels.

The operator should select one option of calculation and only complete the data corresponding to this option. Data/ cells regarding other calculation options/alternatives should be left blank.

Yes, in such cases, the cells related to ethanol production data should be left blank in the calculator, otherwise the calculator will identify the data entry as an error.

No, the operator is only required to develop and implement actions to address salient opportunities, prioritising those that may be affecting the core indicators on the Bonsucro Production Standard. If the risk assessment carried out under indicator 1.2.3 refers to the conversion of natural ecosystems for the whole supply base, then it should be addressed as a matter of priority.

Please note that this indicator is covered by the Transition Period Policy and benefits from an adapted transition pathway. For more information, view the transition policy here.

The advantage of being audit against Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1 before 1st September 2022 is that the operator might become one of the first operators audited to the new standard which could translate into communication opportunities regarding their achievement.

Bonsucro Board of Directors has approved a transition period policy for the Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1. Following the adoption of the Bonsucro Production Standard v5.1, all audits starting after 31st August 2022 must be conducted in line with the new standard. However, we recognise that:

  • Several factors may impact an operator’s ability to implement some of the new or amended indicators.
  • Data required by the Bonsucro Calculator may not be yet available.

The Transition Period Policy lists the indicators for which an adapted transition pathway will be acceptable, and applicable conditions. The policy is available here

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