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Mapping the climate footprint of sugar

Nordic Sugar has analysed the climate footprint of its sugar production. Compared with other processed foods, the impact is very low.

Nordic Sugar has conducted comprehensive analysis work to map out the climate footprint throughout the sugar value chain.

The analysis comprised all aspects from cultivation, production, transport and production of packaging to adjuvants in production to gain a complete overview. This was done as part of the ongoing efforts to ensure increasingly sustainable development. The analysis also included other types of greenhouse gases that are converted into CO2 to see the total impact. The calculation shows that sugar as a product has only a minor impact on the climate. The result is that 675 kg of CO2 are emitted from the production of one tonne of sugar. In comparison, 14,000 kg of CO2 are emitted from the production of one tonne of beef and some 10,800 kg of CO2 are emitted from the production of one tonne of cheese. Furthermore, the analysis showed that transport-related emission does not do the exposure it gets in the media any justice. Transport accounts for a mere six percent of Nordic Sugar’s total CO2 emission.

The analysis also comprised a comparison between beet sugar produced by Nordic Sugar and imported cane sugar refined at Nordic Sugar’s unit in Finland. Sugar canes are often considered a crop that holds a climate advantage because residual products are used for energy in the production. However, Nordic Sugar’s calculations reveal that beet sugar and cane sugar almost have the same climate footprint since transport and refining of cane sugar also result in CO2 emission.

Other environmental aspects such as the low consumption of fertilizer in sugar beet growing, a high yield per hectare, and the fact that sugar beets effectively resist drought help make cultivation of sugar beets sustainable in the Nordic latitudes.

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