Our production process and the products we make provide benefits to the environment and play a key role in the low-carbon economy. Some of the main positive impacts include the sequestration of carbon from the air due to the change in land use resulting from the cultivation of sugarcane on previously degraded areas. Furthermore, the use of our products – such as electricity generated by renewable sources (biomass) and ethanol – as an alternative to fossil fuels helps prevent greenhouse gas air emissions. This effectively reinforces our commitment to Brazil’s sustainable development.
In the Paris Agreement signed at COP-21, Brazil set targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 37% by 2025 and 43% by 2030 (from the level in 2005), supported by increasing the sustainable use of bioenergy and the share of renewable resources in the country’s energy profile. According to UNICA, sugarcane biomass corresponds to only 8.7% of Brazil’s authorized power generation capacity (read more here).
The consumption of the ethanol and the electricity we produced in the 2015/2016 crop year instead of the gasoline and fossil fuels used by thermal power plants avoided the emission of 5.5 million tons of CO2-equivalent (tCO2e). G4-EN27Click here to learn more about this aspect in the GRI Supplement
Emissions avoided by the use of products made by Odebrecht Agroindustrial (million tCO2e)
The benefits from the use of sugarcane as a source of bioenergy generation were verified by a study conducted by researchers at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), in 2011. Supported by a comprehensive database and a consolidated tool for lifecycle analyses, the experts concluded that GHG emissions during the production of sugar from sugarcane are estimated at 234 grams of CO2-equivalent per kilogram produced, which is considerably less than the emissions from sugar made from beetroot. The consumption of anhydrous ethanol as fuel is estimated to produce 21.3 grams of CO2-equivalent per megajoule of energy generated, which corresponds to mitigating around 80% of GHG emissions compared to the use of conventional gasoline.
Made from renewable resources and helping to capture and sequester carbon dioxide in the soil, sugarcane ethanol is already used by the chemical industry to manufacture products with lower environmental impacts. One such solution is green polyethylene, which uses the biofuel as feedstock, instead of fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas.
Green polyethylene features the same technical properties, appearance and versatility as its traditional counterpart, but helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can be recycled in the same chain as fossil-based products. Moreover, because it is not biodegradable, the new product maintains the CO2 captured during its lifecycle.
Agricultural fires (number of occurrences/million tons of cane harvested)*
*Considers only fires caused by internal factors.
To minimize the impacts from the proliferation of stable flies, we conduct fertigation in accordance with the parameters of environmental legislation and with the Vinasse Application Plans. We also established mechanisms for dialoging and interacting with local Communities and cattle farmers and work in partnership with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) to adopt control measures (read more here). G4-EN34Click here to learn more about this aspect in the GRI Supplement
Regarding the fire complaint at the São Paulo Cluster, we demonstrated (by presenting documents and evidence of the practices adopted) that the fire was caused by arson perpetrated by third parties. G4-EN34Click here to learn more about this aspect in the GRI Supplement
Our agricultural operations are mechanized and we do not adopt the practice of burning the sugarcane before harvest. Nevertheless, the cane fields, which are located in regions prone to atmospheric discharges, are exposed to the risk of fire. Our management system features an eco-indicator for agricultural fires per ton of sugarcane crushed, which is monitored on a weekly basis. The São Paulo, Araguaia and Eldorado clusters achieved their control targets for the 2015/2016 crop year, reflecting the disciplined application of the Critical Activity Requirement (RAC) for Agricultural Fires included in our Attitude System. The Company’s global rate of 1.39 was 16% above our target for the period, but 23% better than in the previous crop year.
At the Rio Claro Unit, with the support of the Atmospheric Discharges Monitoring Center (FUNCATE/INPE), we developed a pioneering system for the sugar and energy industry to monitor the occurrence of lightning and prevent fires in our operations, in both our sugarcane fields and industrial facilities. An area with a radius of 10 kilometers from the unit is monitored 24 hours a day and alerts are issued 30 minutes to 1 hour in advance when the region is subject to risks, thereby preventing losses in the agroindustrial activities and ensuring the safety of our Team Members.
With this tool, which has been in operation since April 2014, the response time for fires in agricultural areas was reduced by 60% because as soon as the alerts are issued, the fire brigades, which are positioned in strategic locations with greater visibility of the planted areas, are ready to act. Furthermore, the improved knowledge of the risks and operational safety supported an improvement of around 34% in the productivity of the ethanol loading and shipping areas, which are activities that previously were always interrupted by the threat of rain.
Solid waste management
In the operation and management of our Business, we strive to reduce the generation of solid waste and ensure its reuse or proper destination. Two eco-indicators, which are monitored on a monthly basis, are used to set targets for these goals.
The first indicator aims to reduce the disposal of solid waste in landfills and, for the 2015/2016 crop year, our performance beat our target by 59%. The second indicator seeks to reduce contaminated solid waste destined for thermal destruction. In this respect, our performance was 18% better than the target for the period and 14% better than in the previous crop year.
One of the factors enabling this improvement was the implementation of the Critical Activity Requirements (RAC) for Solid Waste. The units also adopted initiatives such as installing special receptacles for recyclable materials and contaminated waste, training teams on how to better separate waste and developing alternatives for disposal and reuse.
We ensure that all of the solid waste generated by our activities reaches the proper destination and is sent to authorize partner companies by conducting site visits and monitoring throughout the year, in accordance with our standards. The process is controlled by means of Solid Waste Transport Manifests (MTR), the invoices of the contracted companies and Destination Certificates. In the 2015/2016 crop year, our operations generated 6,200 tons of solid waste. G4-EN23Click here to learn more about this aspect in the GRI Supplement
Solid waste disposed of in landfills (tons)
Contaminated solid waste (tons of solid waste/million tons of own sugarcane harvested)
Solid waste disposal (t) G4-EN23Click here to learn more about this aspect in the GRI Supplement