MYTHS AND FACTS

Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Bioelectricity is not a clean energy source.

Myth.

In sugarcane fields, carbon stocks amount to 60 tons of carbon per hectare (including above and below ground and soil organic carbon). This means that a lot of carbon is stored in small portions of land, allowing for higher greenhouse gas reductions from the products produced in that area. A study from the SUCRE Project highlighted that in the next 5 years, the increase in biolectricity production could reduce CO2 emissions in energy matrix in 15%.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Is bioelectricity weaker than other electricity sources?

Myth.

The electricity generated by sugarcane biomass, known as bioelectricity, has the same industrial and commercial applications as any other electricity source. In 2019, sugarcane mills supplied more than 22,500 GWh, or 5% of Brazil’s electricity requirements, thanks to sugarcane bioelectricity. Experts estimate that with full use of sugarcane residues, bioelectricity could reach 148,000 GWh, enough to power an entire country the size of Argentina or Norway.

Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity
Sugarcane Bioelectricity

Bioelectricity is not a reliable source.

Myth.

The increase in ethanol production, due to new policies on renewable fuels across the world, has also led to an increase in bioelectricity production. In Brazil, the RenovaBio program expects to drive an increase in ethanol production from 27 million litres to 54 billion liters by 2030. Meanwhile, bioeletricity generation is expected to grow 50% by 2027.

Sugarcane Ethanol

Does ethanol damage car engines?

Myth.

There is no part of an engine that can be harmed with ethanol use. In fact, ethanol is a high octane fuel that can improve an engine’s performance. It also leaves less dirt deposits on the injector nozzles, keeping the engine cleaner than fossil fuels and closer to new through it’s entire lifecycle.

Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol

Does ethanol production compete with food supply?

Myth.

In 2019, sugarcane for ethanol production in Brazil occupied 5,7 million hectares, or roughly 0.7% of the country’s territory. Reports by the European Commission found that with large agricultural areas, high self-sufficiency in food and raw materials, and processes of urbanization already completed, Brazil has been able to harmonize domestic food security and biofuel production. In fact, the expansion of sugarcane production on degraded pastures with the parallel increased yields of food crops and livestock intensification has been said to have decreased land
competition between food and sugarcane in recent years.

Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol

Aren’t EV’s better than ethanol vehicles?

Myth.

Whilst electric vehicles do have zero tailpipe emissions, the electricity source does. Most electric vehicles are powered by coal-producing electricity, defeating its decarbonizing purpose.

Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol
Sugarcane Ethanol

Only pure ethanol is good for environment.

Myth.

Ethanol can be used pure or blended in any percentage with fossil fuels. Countries with ethanol mandates generally experience better air quality given the reduction in pollutant emissions
as well as fewer CO2 emissions. São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil which houses 12 million inhabitants, has experienced a 50% reduction in air pollution due to ethanol use. Rolling out an E10 baseline across the EU would already reduce road transport emissions by up to 15 million tons, in full compatibility with most existing vehicles on the road today.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions

After the prohibition of sugarcane burning, all sugarcane cutter became unemployed.

Myth.

The mechanization process started in 2007, after the voluntary signing of the Green Ethanol Protocol in São Paulo. Even though it displaced sugarcane cutters, the trade created an intense requalifying program, upskilling and retraining 400 thousand employees to occupy new posts.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions

Sugarcane salaries are among the highest in agribusiness.

Fact.

From 2006 to 2016, real income gain in the sugarcane trade reached 35% for industry employees and 60% on average for rural employees. Today, a rural employee can expect to have an average income of R$ 2.013, almost 85% higher then the minimun wage establish by Brazilian legislation.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions

Labor conditions are bad in the sugarcane trade.

Myth.

UNICA and its members have united to fight any labor rights violation. In 2009, the Brazilian government, industry leaders and workers’ unions launched the “National Commitment for the Enhancement of Labor Conditions in Sugarcane Production.” The sugarcane industry has voluntarily committed to abide by a set of thirty best practices, which are audited by an independent third party.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions

Sugarcane workforce are mostly illiterate.

Myth.

The number of illiterate employees dropped from 120.910 in 2000 to 38.876 in 2016. Meanwhile, the number of employees that have studied for 13 years or more has risen from 12.101
to 43.489 in the same period. This structural chance among sugarcane empoloyees shows the commitment of the trade to its workforce.

Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Labor Conditions
Sugarcane Sugar

Is sugar responsible for obesity?

Myth.

Obesity is a disease that can’t be treated in isolation. Calorie ingestion must be taken seriously, given the severe impacts of consuming excessive sugar, excessive fat and not exercising. That’s why it’s so difficult to isolate one cause for obesity.

Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar

Does sugar make cancer cells grow faster?

Myth.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “All cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy, but giving more sugar to cancer cells does not speed their growth. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn’t slow their growth.”

Sugarcane Sugar

Sugar free products are low in calories.

Myth.

Sugar-free does not mean calorie free, particularly in products that contain fat. When sugar is removed from a food, other ingredients need to take its place. Compare product labels to see what the entire nutrient package of a product is when making purchasing decisions.

Sugarcane Sugar

Can sugar be part of a healthy diet?

Fact.

Balanced meals and exercise are key to a healthy life. Sugar, or sucrose, is a carbohydrate found naturally in most fruits and vegetables. The ingredient is the main energy source for the body and brain, and also activates the neurotransmitter serotonin, responsible for pleasant and wellness feelings.

Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sugar
Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Does Brazilian sugarcane ethanol lead to deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and other sensitive biomes?

Myth.

Almost 92% of sugarcane production for ethanol is harvested in South-Central Brazil, over 2,500 km (1,550 miles) from the Amazon. The remainder is grown in Northeastern Brazil, about the same distance from the Amazon’s easternmost fringe. That is roughly the distance between New York City and Dallas, or Paris and Moscow. Amazon region is in fact not a commercially viable location for producing sugarcane, due to the climactic conditions required for its growth.

Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Is sugarcane ethanol the cleanest liquid biofuel?

Fact.

First generation sugarcane ethanol can reduce, on average, up to 90% of CO2e when compared to fossil fuels. This is the best result achieved by any fossil fuel. This result can only be beaten by Ethanol 2G, made from sugarcane residues, that has a carbon footprint 35% lower than regular sugarcane ethanol.

Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Is fertilizer use in sugarcane production is contaminating local water sources?

Myth.

Sugarcane cultivation uses vinasse – a by-product resulted from ethanol processing – due to its fertilizer and irrigation – known as fertirrigation – attributes. There is a technical norm/ standard by the São Paulo State Environmental Agency – CETESB which guides storage, transport and application of vinasse in order to guarantee proper conditions, avoiding contamination and maximizing its functionality. The norm guides on the amount to be used, forbids the application next to the riparian area (border of rivers/water) and preservation areas, and also establishes water monitoring protocols and parameters, among other measures to be followed in order to protect water sources.

Sugarcane Sustainability
Sugarcane Sustainability

Brazilian sugarcane trade is committed to sustainability?

Fact.

The sugarcane trade is committed a sustainable and low carbon economy model. Over the past few years, much have been done to achieve this goal. Investments on technology, protocol adoption and, of course, a genuine commitment to protect and preserve native forest. RenovaBio policy is one of the best examples: it has a zero deforestation tolerance, even when the Brazilian Forest Code allows deforestation in some cases. It also reduced 95% of water use in industrial processes and recovered 200.000 hectares of native land, with more than 40 million seeds planted.

Sugarcane Sustainability