Increased supply of clean and renewable energy in the Brazilian energy matrix, contributing to carbon capture and combating global warming, improving air quality in cities, use of degraded areas for agriculture and preserving forest areas. The environmental benefits derived from the cultivation of sugarcane and the use of its products are diverse and impact the whole society in a positive way.
Our business model is aligned with one of the main global environmental demands: reducing CO2 emissions to limit global warming. All countries and productive sectors are vulnerable to climate change and its possible consequences, such as changes in the rainfall regime, water scarcity and desertification of fertile areas. That is why the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015 at COP-21, and meeting the goals of the signatory nations are so relevant to boosting a low carbon economy.
Brazil ratified the Paris Agreement in September 2016, committing itself to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 37% below 2005 levels by 2025. By 2030, this reduction is expected to reach a level of 43%. To achieve these objectives, the country will seek to increase the share of biofuels, such as ethanol, in the energy matrix and expand the share of renewable sources such as biomass for energy generation.
Part of our production of hydrated ethanol is already directed to the production of green polyethylene, a technology nationally developed that replaces the input obtained from fossil fuels. Last year, we sold 160.2 thousand cubic meters to Braskem, a company of the Odebrecht Group that holds the patent for green polyethylene. G4-EN27
Studies conducted in Brazil by researchers from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) and the International Energy Agency (an organization with 29 member countries) indicate that the use of ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 80% and 90% compared to the use of gasoline. G4-EN27
Biomass energy generation also has important environmental benefits. The input is renewable and clean because the CO2 emissions from the burning of the straw and sugarcane bagasse are removed by carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, by means of reeds growth. In addition, the production of energy during the harvest has its peak in periods with lower rainfall intensity, allowing water from the reservoirs of hydroelectric plants to be stored.
Despite the tangible benefits of bioenergetics derived from sugarcane, the sugar-energy sector has the challenge of transforming these differentials into commercial advantages, allowing the replacement of fossil fuels in the energy matrix. The environmental and health impacts generated by the atmospheric emissions of these products are not yet adequately priced by national public policies.
Control of fires in the cane fields Our agricultural operations are fully mechanized and there is no burning of sugarcane to harvest our sugar cane. Fires that occur on plantations are involuntary phenomena, caused by external events (such as lightning strikes) or equipment failures. Through an ecoindicator weekly monitored, we follow the occurrences of this type of event.
In the 2016/2017 harvest, the fire rate per ton of ground cane was 2.30, above the target of 0.82 established for the period. Because of this performance, we plan to intensify the training actions for Leaders and teams, in order to improve the washing and cleaning activities of harvesters, as well as the investigations and corrective actions to mitigate the occurrences with an internal origin.
Focusing on the control of fires by external factors, in the last harvest we expanded the lightning monitoring system for all our Units. The technology, which emits alerts at least 30 minutes in advance when there are lightning hazards in the region, has the role of preventing fires, ensuring the safety of Members and increasing productivity, as it reduces the number of outages.
The system has been used since 2014 by the Rio Claro Unit (Goiás Pole) and, in its first year of implementation, it provided a 34% increase in productivity and a reduction of more than 60% in reaction time to the outbreaks of fire in the agricultural area, reducing the losses caused by burned sugar cane.
Atmospheric Emissions G4-EN15G4-EN16G4-EN17G4-DMA
In our agricultural and industrial operations, sugarcane plantations capture more carbon than the total emitted by our activities. In the 2016/2017 harvest, carbon capture and storage in our sugarcane plantations totaled 1.4 million tons of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e), while emissions related to production, processing, transport and inputs were 0.9 million tCO2e. Furthermore, the use of our ethanol as fuel instead of gasoline and our export of electricity from biomass prevented the emission of 5.4 million tCO2e.
These data are annually monitored in the elaboration of our inventory of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), according to a specific methodology for the sugar-energy sector created by researchers from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). This tool considers international references such as ISO 14040 and 14044 and guidelines from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the European Renewable Energy Directive, as well as the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations (UN).
In logistic activities, we prioritize the use of modes such as rail and ethanol, whose emissions related to diesel consumption are lower than those of road transport. In the 2016/2017 harvest, 55% of the ethanol we produced was distributed through trains and ethanol, while 88% of the VHP sugar production was drained by railroads. This diversification of manners is also relevant to increase the competitiveness of our products, as our Units are located on the new agricultural frontiers and therefore further away from the large consumer markets.
Since 2016, we have also drawn up our inventory according to the guidelines of the Brazilian GHG Protocol Program and in 2017 we have achieved the Gold classification, the highest qualification obtained after undergoing external verification (learn more here).
Sustainable partnership in motorsport To disclose the environmental benefits of sugarcane ethanol, Odebrecht Agroindustrial signed an agreement with the British motor racing team Aston Martin Racing to neutralize the carbon emissions of the team at the 2017 World Endurance Championship events. The agreement signature was made in October 2016 at the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, and the company’s brand was already stamped on the team’s cars in the GPs of Shanghai and Bahrain.
In the 2015 season, Aston Martin Racing emitted 808.78 tCO2e. In the 2015/2016 harvest, we issued 870,189.91 tCO2e, but captured 1,348,901.71 tCO2e in our operations. The figures are listed in the Companies’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory and in the Neutralization Statement, approved and certified by the independent BSI Brazil audit. Materials G4-DMA
The use of by-products of the industrial process, especially vinasse, to increase the quality of the crops is one of our main strategies of action focused on increasing productivity and reducing the use of agricultural inputs. In planting operations, other by-products (filter cake and ashes from boilers) can also be better utilized and the need for fertilizers reduced. As of the 2017/2018 harvest, we aim to improve this performance, expanding the area covered with fertirrigation and other actions.
In our activities, one of the main inputs used is diesel as a fuel for agricultural vehicles. In the last crop year, we obtained a reduction of 10% in the indicator that measures consumption for each ton of cane harvested. This performance surpassed the target by approximately 9%, representing an economy of 5.4 million liters. We achieved this result through the use of new technologies in harvesters and cane transshipment (learn more here), greater promptness and control of consumption, qualification of Members and inclusion of this variable in the Monthly Productivity Program (PPM).
In addition to the search for reduction in the consumption of materials, we also act to reduce the generation of waste, especially the contaminated ones. In 2016/2017, the total volume generated (5 thousand tons) fell 19% in relation to the previous crop year. In the period, our teams increased discipline in applying the Critical Activity Requirement (RAC) of waste, paying attention to the separation of contaminated materials and those that can be recycled. With this, the amount intended to embankments decreased 53%. G4-EN23