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Coca-Cola snaps up first Bonsucro certified sugarcane

By Sarah Hills , 22-Jun-2011

The first products using sustainable sugarcane under a new certification scheme are about to hit the market after the initial batch was purchased by The Coca-Cola Company’s bottling system.

The Bonsucro environmental and social sustainability standard was used to certify more than 130,000 tons of sugar at a Raízen mill in Brazil in an initiative expected to “change the sugarcane industry forever”.

The certification is said to be “relatively inexpensive” and allows companies to demonstrate through measurable impacts that it is “against child labour, supports human rights and is concerned with implementing environmentally sound practices”.

Bonsucro is a multi-stakeholder organisation and a spokeswoman told FoodNavigator.com that it is the “only global metric standard on the market today”.

She added “It is unique because it can specifically measure the impact of the production of sugarcane. Bonsucro is the only standard in the market that covers all three elements of sustainability- environment, social and economic stability and growth.”

The spokeswoman said that members can choose whether or not to use the registered trademark Bonsucro either on product or off-product.

Kevin Ogorzalek, program officer, World Wildlife Fund and chairman of the Bonsucro Board, said: “This will change the sugarcane industry forever. Certification will drive the industry to greater sustainability, thereby preserving natural resources while upholding human and labour rights.”

The 130,000 tons of sugar and 63,000 cubic metres of ethanol were certified against the Bonsucro production standard by independent certification body SGS.

This may be a drop in the ocean considering that globally about 30 million hectares are farmed for sugarcane. However, Bonsucro said it plans to increase its membership by 25 per cent every year.

Its members are producers, growers, companies who purchase the product (including British Sugar, Cargill, Syngenta and Tate & Lyle Sugars) and NGO’s such as WWF.

Sugarcane is used as a table sugar, but also in the production of foods, sweetened beverages, livestock feed, molasses, rum and the production of biofuels.

The production standard assesses the biodiversity, ecosystem and human rights impacts of sugarcane production and demands legal compliance and continuous improvement throughout the production process.

This is assessed against key indicators, such as energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. Sugarcane mills are required to be members of Bonsucro and certificates are valid for three years, with annual audits.

Bonsucro was originally the Better Sugarcane Initiative – an industry body set up to develop a productions standard with the aim to reduce the environmental and social impacts of sugarcane.

The first certification is said to be the conclusion of five years collaboration between the world's biggest sugarcane producers, corporations and influential NGOs, “providing a standard against which the sustainability of sugarcane derived products can be assessed by consumers, companies, governments and NGOs”.

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