Omnicane becomes first Bonsucro certified African mill

22nd November 2019

Bonsucro is delighted to announce the certification of Omnicane Milling Operations Limited under the Bonsucro’s Production and Chain of Custody Standards. The mill owned by Omnicane Group is found on the island of Mauritius, and this holds special significance for Bonsucro as it is the first mill in Africa to achieve Bonsucro certification.

Omnicane

Omnicane is a leading African producer and processor of sugarcane. The sugar mill located in the south of the island crushes about 1,2M tonnes of sugarcane per year of which some 225,000 tons shall be from Omnicane’s own farm certified under the Bonsucro Standard. Omnicane’s CEO Jacques M. d’Unienville explained to us that the group sees sustainability as a “business model that creates value consistent with long term preservation and enhancement of environmental, social and financial capital”.

In light of this, Omicane makes every effort to ensure that nothing is wasted in the milling and refining process. Included in the mill’s factory complex is a refinery, a bioethanol distillery, and a cogeneration power plant. The cogeneration power plant runs mainly on bagasse in the harvest season and coal in the off crop. The power plant are responsible for supplying 20% of Mauritius’s annual energy requirement. Omincane also houses a carbon burn out unit for the production of green cement additives from coal ash, while the carbon dioxide that is produced during the fermentation process in the bioethanol plant is cleaned and used as food grade CO2 for the beverage industry. Over and above its operations in Mauritius, the group has other ventures in Kenya, Rwanda and the United Kingdom.

Omnicane sees Bonsucro as a fitting partner for its ambitions for sustainable sugarcane production and processing. The group has experienced a growing interest among its customers to understand and track the environmental and social impacts of their supply chains, and Bonsucro certification is a good mechanism to demonstrate this in a transparent manner.

Implementing changes

Rajiv Ramlugon, Omnicane’s Chief Sustainability Officer praised the excellent collaboration between Omnicane’s various teams and the commitment from senior management in pursuing Bonsucro certification. Omnicane is also part of the National Cane Sustainability Steering Committee established by the Mauritian Sugar Syndicate to promote a national drive for sustainability across the Mauritian cane industry. Through this initiative, the group has worked very closely with the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute to reduce their rate of application of herbicides.

The reduction of herbicides has been a vital step in Omnicane’s certification. “Successfully reducing our herbicides application rate, which is a core requirement of the Bonsucro Standard, was a major achievement for us. Presently the cost of adopting the new herbicides application rate is on the high side; however, we expect that by adoption of these products by other planters, the price can be expected to become more competitive. Furthermore, adoption of the Bonsucro metrics have enabled us to better benchmark the social, environmental and economic performance of our sugarcane related activities”, says Francois Audibert, Omnicane’s Chief Operations Officer for Agriculture.

In order to keep track of their progress, Mr Ramlugon found the Bonsucro Calculator to be useful: “The Bonsucro calculator helped us to easily track our compliance to the Bonsucro Production standard both at agriculture and mill level.”

Significance of Bonsucro certification

Mr Ramlugon explained that for Omnicane, certification against the Bonsucro standards means that Omnicane now has “better internal control systems, an opportunity to improve our operational performance and efficiency, a means of self-assessment and a better way to manage our risks and liabilities.”

Additionally, Omnicane see their certification as an opportunity to access new markets, enhance the group’s commercial reputation and a means of benchmarking themselves against their competitors. Mr d’Unienville says that “Bonsucro certification will provide a competitive edge for the marketing of sustainable sugar from Omnicane and the Mauritian sugarcane industry at large.”

Next steps

Mr Ramlugon hopes to share Omnicane’s experience with other farmers and millers through the National Cane Sustainability Steering Committee to help them achieve Bonsucro certification too. Omnicane also looks forward to engaging more with other Bonsucro members: “As a reliable partner with Bonsucro, we aim to benefit from the Bonsucro networks and exchange platforms to enhance our capacity building”, explains Mr Ramlugon. Furthermore, the group is confident that through their Bonsucro certification they will be in a better position to market sustainable sugar and bioethanol on the European and world markets and encourage better value addition on their product.

“As the Continent’s first Bonsucro certified mill, Omnicane heralds a new era for African sugarcane production; for the first time, there will be African Bonsucro certified sugar on the market. It is not a surprise that Omnicane is the pioneer in this regard, since they have consistently been leaders in sustainability. The Group’s certification is a validation of the hard work they have accomplished with their partners in transforming the Mauritian sugarcane sector to a more sustainable industry. Congratulations Omnicane!” – Boudewijn Goossens, Regional Director for Africa and Middle East, Bonsucro.

Bonsucro & Renovabio: Exploring synergies and advancing GHG reduction in Brazil

Project partners: Earth innovation Institute and Agroicone
Project length: 12 months Budget: $22,347,79
Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals:

RenovaBio is a Brazilian biofuel policy designed to decrease Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2029 [compared to 2018], in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change. It aims to do this by incentivising fuel distributors to blend more biofuels into their products. RenovaBio has established a certification scheme for biofuel, towards which Brazilian sugarcane mills are working, that will enable them to trade decarbonisation credits on the Brazilian stock exchange.

Bonsucro continuously seeks to grow awareness and adoption of its standard. In Brazil, this can be achieved by aligning its framework with RenovaBio to optimise costs and time for mills. In 2019, Bonsucro received a grant of US $22,000 from the Earth Innovation Institute to provide a common understanding of how RenovaBio works and how other regions might benefit from this approach.

Bonsucro addressed the topic at Bonsucro Global Week in Bangkok in March 2019, and through three stakeholder forums in Brazil. The Bonsucro team also commissioned a technical comparison study, which enabled the organisation to understand how best to align with RenovaBio’s requirements.

The study has been shared with key stakeholders in Brazil and the project is now complete. Bonsucro is working to incorporate the study’s findings and recommendations through its ongoing Production Standard Revision process.

By aligning opportunities of optimisation, joint work and integration with the Brazilian Government and reflecting it in the Bonsucro Standard, Bonsucro can help to ensure that more producers adopt sustainability standards like Bonsucro.