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Sugarcane Initiative

Bacardi showcases their green facility in Puerto Rico during the annual Sugarcane Initiative Conference.  Sustainability was the main topic of the meeting.


CATAÑO, Puerto Rico – Bacardi welcomes leaders of the Better Sugarcane Initiative, a global multi-stakeholder non-profit initiative dedicated to reducing the environmental and social impacts of sugar cane production, as it plays host to the annual general meeting and conference November 9-11 at its facility in Cataño, Puerto Rico. Bacardi Corporation, home to the largest premium rum distillery in the world, plays host to members of the global production community who want long-term success in industries dependent on the international sugar trade.

“Bacardi is helping to develop a new standard for sugar cane production that will not only help to standardize working conditions, but also improve environmental performance.”

As part of its long-standing commitment to the environment and sustainable business practices and a founding member of the Better Sugarcane Initiative, Bacardi supports the organization’s goal to improve the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of sugarcane by promoting the use of a global metric standard, with the aim of continuously improving sugarcane production and downstream processing in order to contribute to a more sustainable future.

With the support and advocacy of Bacardi, the Better Sugarcane Initiative gained the membership in the AIM Progress group of companies, probably the most significant collection of end users in the soft drinks and confectionary fields in the world.

“Bacardi is very proud of the support is has given and continues to assist in the development of the Better Sugarcane Initiative for a sustainable future for sugar — and the world. We truly believe this initiative will form the basis of long-lasting improvements in the lives of the sugar cane growers and the industry as a whole,” said Dave Howson, Bacardi global procurement development director, who also gave the keynote speech. “Bacardi is helping to develop a new standard for sugar cane production that will not only help to standardize working conditions, but also improve environmental performance.”

Picture 82While many know Bacardi for great rums and cocktails, Bacardi also has been a leader in corporate responsibility and environmental progress. The emphasis on sustainability is now commonplace at Bacardi and other global food and beverage companies, especially in the sugarcane sector where energy use, production efficiency, elimination of waste and the effect on global climate change are all being closely monitored.

“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars sourcing ingredients and raw materials to create our finished products and build our iconic brands. As we expand our business, it is more important than ever that we source responsibly — in keeping with our Company values and in a way that protects the integrity of our brands,” said Eduardo Vallado, manufacturing director for Bacardi in the Americas region, who gave the welcome address.

Sugarcane is used as a table sugar, but also in the production of foods, sweetened beverages, livestock feed, molasses and rum. More recently, sugar cane is being used in the production of biofuels to meet increasing energy needs.

“With the benefit of its own extensive marketing experience Bacardi is playing a pivotal role in helping to define the Better Sugarcane Initiative’s approach to claims and labeling. The most critical thing we are trying to achieve is a global reduction in the impact of the production of sugarcane. We have developed a standard which can measure actual progress in this regard with a very sophisticated but at the same time simple metric set of indicators. They are easy to measure and ideal for comparisons,” said David Willers, general manager, Better Sugarcane Initiative Ltd. “Responsible consumers and producers expect that all agricultural and industrial enterprises need to operate not just economically, but also in a way that promotes social and environmental improvements.”

The 127-acre Bacardi facility is the largest premium rum facility in the world supplying various premium BACARDI products to North America, Europe and other parts of the world. It is also the second most visited tourism venue in metro San Juan, drawing more than 250,000 visitors a year to learn about the rich history of the Bacardi family and brand, as well as its unique production.

The environmentally-conscience Bacardi facility also is home to the largest wind turbine installation in Puerto Rico designed to harness natural wind energy to help power the global distillery. The two wind turbines generate approximately 1,000,000 kWh of electricity per year accounting for three to seven percent of the power used by Bacardi, roughly the consumption of the facilities tourism-related activities at its Casa Bacardi Visitor Center (and equivalent to the consumption of about 100 average households) with an expected carbon offset of more than 900 tons of CO2 per year.

Also at its facility in Puerto Rico, Bacardi was one of the pioneers in anaerobic treatment of distillery wastewater and has patented a system that is now used by other companies around the world. Other environmental initiatives at the Bacardi facility in Puerto Rico include recycling old ageing barrels by dismantling and chopping them and giving the barrel chips to employees as mulch for their gardens and for facility landscaping. As a novel idea to re-purpose large plastic promotional banners, Bacardi cuts and sews old banners into reusable shopping bags for employees.

Globally, Bacardi was certified in December 2009 to be operating in accordance with the world’s most recognized standards for quality, environment, and health and safety. Bacardi is the only major spirits company to achieve certification under ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 for all its production facilities globally, putting the company among an elite group of the world’s best-run companies.