Certification in the Sugar and Ethanol Sector Grows


“…total volume of certified sugar traded was 2.16 million tonnes, almost double the volume in 2018…”

Natália Pinheiro Cêra is the coordinator of Bonsucro in Brazil, environmental engineer, environmental management and occupational safety engineering specialist. Cêra was director of Rama Consultoria Ambiental and partner of Versus Consultoria Ambiental.


Natália Pinheiro Cêra, coordinator of Bonsucro in Brazil

AgriBrasilis – What is the goal of Bonsucro certification? What are the evaluation criteria for this certification?

Natália Pinheiro – – Bonsucro certification is an internationally recognized metric tool that aims to demonstrate the commitment and good practices of environmental and social sustainability in the sugarcane sector.

There are two types of Bonsucro certification: one applicable to the farmer link and the other to the marketing link in the production chain. Both exist to ensure that sugarcane production respects the environment, human rights, the stakeholders involved, legal compliance, and that it is a traceable and long-lasting supply chain.

Bonsucro aims to collectively accelerate the production and sustainable uses of sugarcane and is based on three strategic goals, translated into our certification standards:

1 – Create value throughout the supply chain;

2 – Improve the environmental impact of sugarcane;

3 – Strengthen human rights and decent work in harvesting and processing of sugarcane.

The objective of the Bonsucro Production Standard is to define principles, criteria and indicators for evaluating the performance of companies in relation to the pillars of sustainability.

In October, we published a report regarding the 2021 results. There was a significant increase in members producing bioplastics, biomaterials and rum. Throughout the year, new members were welcomed from countries that were not previously members, such as Martinique, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Jamaica. In this report, we conclude that no land classified as high conservation value under certification has been converted to agricultural land; on average, certified farmers reduced water consumption by 53% after five years of certification; on average, certified units reduced 6% reduction in GHG emissions in the first year of certification; 32% of certified industries reported zero lost-time accidents, compared to 25% in 2019. In addition, 71% of certified plants produced enough energy to export to the national grid.

AgriBrasilis – How does this certification impact access to markets?

Natália Pinheiro – Harvested in 115 countries, sugarcane is one of the most important cash crops in the world, with a vast global market for sugar and ethanol, in addition to a wide range of food and non-food derivatives and end-uses, stimulating the continuous development of the market.

As long as sugar continues to account for 75% of the final destination of sugarcane use, a considerable expansion of its use as a biofuel and in the production of plastics and packaging is expected, as well as in other markets, such as molasses and feed for animals. We want certified sugarcane to become the norm for these new markets.

We cannot interfere with pricing, which is market-determined, but we provide a framework that facilitates compliance with high standards of sustainability, helping to provide greater access to markets. We are working on identifying and engaging with financial institutions and other influencers to build a stronger market, as well as engaging with governments and the public sector to show how our standards and protocols meet their requirements in domestic and export markets, as we have done for EU-RED and for the recognition of bagasse in sustainable electricity production by the Dutch government.

Some of the figures reported in our report show that the total volume of certified sugar traded was 2.16 million tonnes, almost double the volume in 2018. Several purchasing members of Bonsucro had already made commitments to sustainably acquire 100% of their sugar by 2020.

AgriBrasilis – What is the certified area in Latin America? In which countries was there greater adherence?

Natália Pinheiro – The certified world area is 1,504,302 hectares. As of December 2021, Latin America had 104 certified plants out of a total of 145 certified plants around the world.

Certification continues to grow in Latin America and Asia. Latin America was the region with the highest growth, which is consistent with the previous year. Brazil is still the country with the highest representation in the Bonsucro membership, while Mexico had the highest number of new additions in 2021.

AgriBrasilis – What is the credit trading platform from Bonsucro and what are the types of credit? How are they obtained and traded?

Natália Pinheiro – It is a platform where buyers and sellers come together to promote sustainable cane production at scale. The tool allows certified farmers and mills to sell credits to purchasing companies and Bonsucro members.

A Bonsucro credit proves that a unit of sugarcane, raw sugar, ethanol or molasses has been sustainably produced in accordance with the Bonsucro Production Standard. Credits are traded virtually. They are not physical product operations.

Only members have access to this platform and can buy or sell the credits. All trading takes place within the platform for sales that we call on-market (automatic matching of bids and offers based on price) or off-market (buyers can look for farmers from specific countries).



Agrometeorological Monitoring of Sugarcane