A short guide to Bonsucro

Written byE&A Scheer
Bonsucro Rum
 Published December 2023 | Average reading time: 3-4 minutes

A short guide to Bonsucro – the global platform for sustainable sugarcane 

Bonsucro is the leading global sustainability platform, setting the industry standard for sugarcane. Since Rum is produced from sugarcane, Bonsucro can wield a significant influence on the industry. This short guide will explain how the organisation works to create a more sustainable future for both the sugarcane industry as a whole - and the communities that depend on it.  

What are the goals of Bonsucro? 

By promoting responsible sourcing and production, Bonsucro aims to reduce the negative impacts of sugarcane farming, such as deforestation, biodiversity loss and worker exploitation.  

Bonsucro works in partnership with businesses, governments, and communities to improve social, environmental, and economic outcomes in the sugarcane sector. Official standards cover a wide range of issues from labour practices and land rights to biodiversity, water, and carbon emissions.  

The organisation also provides certification and training programs for sugarcane farmers and mills, helping them to comply with these standards and improve their sustainability performance. 

The ultimate goal is to transform the sugarcane industry into a force for good that benefits people, the planet, and business profits.  

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Picture 1: goals Bonsucro. https://bonsucro.com/

What is the difference between Bonsucro, Organic, and Fairtrade? 

Organic and Fairtrade certifications both apply to a wide range of products, such as coffee, tea, flowers, nuts, textiles, cacao – and Rum, of course. Bonsucro, on the other hand, focuses solely on sugarcane and its derivatives. 

Organic certification ensures farming practices are free from synthetic pesticides, fertilisers, and GMOs. And Fairtrade deals with more behind-the-scenes aspects such as fair prices, better working conditions, and a minimum price for small-scale farmers and workers in developing countries. Bonsucro encompasses both sides of the story. Their standards require compliance with land use, water management, and pesticide use, yet also place an emphasis on labour rights, transparency, stakeholder engagement, and continuous improvement.  

What are the advantages of Bonsucro certification for Rum brands? 

Worker protection, sustainability, and transparency are all seen as essential issues in modern times. Bonsucro certification helps brands to assure consumers that they take these issues seriously and, in doing so, that they represent an ethically responsible choice. For example, certification enhances a brand’s sustainability and social responsibility credentials in the face of growing customer demand for environmentally friendly products. And it highlights the fact that a brand complies with the regulations and standards designed to protect people and the planet. In doing so, it also helps to strengthen relationships with suppliers and local communities.  

How does Bonsucro certification work?  

Organisations that apply for certification must be shown to comply with the Bonsucro Chain of Custody Standard. To verify this is the case, the platform adopts a ‘Mass Balance’ approach to tracking compliance along the entire supply chain. This provides applicants with a certain level of flexibility in sourcing and manufacturing, while maintaining the integrity and transparency of the certification. It has been said this system can result in small amounts of non-sustainable sugarcane being mixed in with the certified sustainable bulk, potentially diluting the credibility of certification. Yet the issue should become less prevalent as sugarcane producers increasingly adopt sustainable farming practices. 

Influence of Bonsucro on Rum industry


How influential is Bonsucro on the Rum industry?

Sugarcane is the key ingredient in Rum production, so Bonsucro naturally plays a significant role in helping to make sure the industry works as sustainably and equitably as possible. Rum is quickly evolving into a premium drink with a focus on sustainability, quality, and taste – and Scandinavia is leading the way. Demand for higher quality Rum in the region is growing fast, with Scandinavian retailers setting a new standard. This trend is set to be followed worldwide, increasing the demand for responsibly produced varieties. Bonsucro certification allows brands to highlight their sustainability credentials. 

Does Bonsucro have an impact of on the sugarcane sector? 

A 2021 report showed that 1.5 million hectares of land, and over 10,000 smallholders, were Bonsucro certified. Within one year of certification, the wages of mill workers were on average 19% higher than the minimum wage, and 15% higher for farm workers. The report also showed that workers enjoyed access to healthier drinking water and better working hours. In terms of sustainability, the report showed that Bonsucro-certified mills had reduced water use by 53% within five years of certification. And 71% of certified mills produced enough energy to export to the national grid. 

E&A Scheer and Bonsucro 

E&A Scheer is proud to have gained Bonsucro Chain of Custody certification in 2017, after becoming acquainted with the concept through one of our customers. Back then, the availability of Bonsucro certified Rum was fairly limited, but we have seen a notable increase in both availability and demand over the last few years - testimony to the platform’s growing influence. Committed to creating a more sustainable future for the entire sugarcane industry, we now spread the word whenever possible.

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