Responsible for Sustainability | Mônica Alcântara

Responsible for the publication | Guilherme Bourroul

GRI Consultancy and Editorial Coordination | usina82

Graphic design and web development | GIZ Propaganda

Photography | Eduardo Moody e acervo Odebrecht Agroindustrial

Environmental Impact

Local Development Future Perspectives


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

Stable Fly Control

The stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) is a pest that damages livestock production as it feeds on the blood of animals and can transmit different types of diseases. The insect exists in different regions of Brazil and deposits its larvae in organic materials, such as bed of chicken and orange bagasse and sugar cane. The fly control is carried out, basically, with measures of preventive hygiene in the places in which eggs posture can occur.

At our new agricultural boundaries, our Units have livestock producers as neighbors and the open and transparent relationship with this public has ensured effective measures to control the pest. In partnership with Embrapa, we developed the Stable Fly Monitoring Program, which includes a series of actions to prevent the occurrence of outbreaks.

Among the main initiatives in our Units is the adoption of practices such as the collection or prophylactic burning of straw, the scarification of the soil to increase the absorption of vinasse and the adoption of safety devices in the pipes to avoid the occurrence of leaks. In situations where the vinasse leaks from the pipes, we have procedures for the immediate application of limestone on the site. Our Members are continuously trained and made aware of the importance of this practice.

For fly control, we use a trap technique in both our Units and neighboring properties. The blue and black self-stick flags, which attract and retain insects, are installed in strategic locations, monitored with geo-referencing technology. The data are collected on a weekly basis and sent to Embrapa, which tabulates the data, analyzes the flies population mean and helps in the definition of control measures. Currently, more than 130 traps are installed.

Our Members also carry out, according to a pre-established schedule, visits to the neighboring farms for the application of pesticides and collaboration in the cleaning of the stables. In these interactions, we reinforce the importance of maintaining hygiene, present our practices and reinforce the awareness of local producers.
Water resources G4-DMA

We carry out the water abstraction in our Units to supply the industrial operations and clean the equipment. To reduce consumption, we continually seek opportunities to improve processes and facilities, to increase efficiency, reduce environmental impacts and improve control and monitoring mechanisms. The abstraction of water for irrigation of sugarcane plantations occurs only at the Rio Claro Unit (GO), due to the restrictive soil conditions.

Virtually all water used in the industry is recycled or reused. In addition to the internal systems in the factories for recirculation within the production processes, we incorporate the wastewater to the vinasse for application in the agricultural areas, according to the Vinhaça Application Plan (PAV). Only a portion (about 25%) of what is consumed in the industry is lost as steam in the cooling towers. Thereby, we have an operation with zero effluent and minimize the pressure we have on the availability of local water resources.

Our water consumption is monitored through an eco-indicator that evaluates the use of the natural input per ton of processed sugarcane. In the 2016/2017 harvest, our performance remained stable in relation to the previous year, preventing the achievement of the established target. In the coming years, in order to increase our efficiency, we will make improvements in the measurement and capture systems and intensify the reuse mechanisms in industrial operations.

Biodiversity G4-DMAG4-EN12

Each year, our Units carry out the Environmental Monitoring of the Fauna, which allows us to monitor and minimize the impact of our activities on the species of animals present in areas of preservation and environmental protection located close to the areas in which we operate.

The results are presented to environmental regulating bodies and demonstrate that the presence of sugarcane in the regions does not generate significant impacts on biodiversity. In the 2017/2018 harvest, this monitoring will be expanded to also cover sites where there is fertigation application.
The evaluation of bioindicators in the São Paulo Pole concluded that there is no interference of sugarcane cultivation in the occurrence and distribution of animals in the region.
Since 2007, at the São Paulo Pole, we have carried out one of the most important investments aimed at protecting biodiversity: the implementation of ecological corridors that contribute to the conservation of local fauna. The Pontal do Paranapanema region is home to the largest remnant of the Atlantic Forest outside the coastal limits of the State, sheltering endangered species of animals such as the Black Lion Tamarin.

In 2016, to contribute to the preservation of conservation units and fragments of natural areas around the Units, we conducted an environmental quality analysis through the evaluation of bioindicators in the regions of influence of agricultural production. Hence, we selected species of birds and mammals whose presence indicates the integrity of the evaluated environments. The data that supported the analysis were collected in 34 different points.

During the sampling period, 13 bird species and 19 mammal species were registered as bioindicators. It was also possible to verify that the use of the soil for the cultivation of sugar cane does not have a significant interference in the occurrence and distribution of these species.

Another conclusion was that the species are pulverized by the region instead of being confined in the conservation units. This condition demonstrates the effectiveness of ecological corridors in which there is a continuous flow of animals.