‘Waste not want not’ is the mantra of every sustainability-minded business. When we set out our target of beneficially using 100% of our waste by 2030, with an ambition to reach 75% by 2025, we knew we’d need to work hard to find the right partners to help put waste from our operation to good use.
Our facility in Santa Rosa, Brazil, is already a star-performer beneficially using 99.9% of its waste, avoiding sending waste to landfill and supporting local farmers at the same time. We spoke to Aline Lopes, LATAM Environmental Lead in Tate & Lyle Brazil, to find out how they do it.
“Here in Santa Rosa, we produce citric acid, which is used to boost acidity, enhance flavour and extend the shelf-life of food and drink, as well as adding the fizz to fizzy drinks,” Aline explained. “The citric acid we make here starts from sugar cane, which is grown right on our doorstep. Also, just like producers of beer, cheese and coffee, we use a fermentation fungus in our production, in our case to stabilise the acid. Once the fungus has done its job, we filter it out of our product so we’re left with the cell mass of the fungus, called mycelium, which is highly nutritious and can be used to fertilise agricultural land.”
Mycelium isn’t the only waste product resulting from citric acid production that the Santa Rosa team are able to beneficially use.
“We also separate the sediment and waste biomass from our process water for beneficial use because it is rich in organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus, the main nutrients needed in agriculture,” Aline continued. “For more than 20 years, we have supplied three local farms with this nutritious material that helps limit their costs and environmental impact. It feels great to know that we are using our waste to deliver a positive benefit in our community and care for our planet. Our current focus is looking at how we can reduce further our greenhouse gas emissions as part of our wider environmental programme, so we can help tackle climate change,” Aline concluded.
Santa Rosa is one of 23 production facilities in our global network and each site is working to play its part in delivering our waste target alongside our other environmental commitments. Sara Leeman, Global Environment Lead at Tate & Lyle, added: “When it comes to beneficially using waste, each facility has its own challenges and opportunities. To meet our ambitious new target, we will need to tailor solutions to each site based on the ingredients we produce there, and raw materials used. It’s hugely gratifying to benefit the communities growing our raw materials with the remnants of our production that are no longer useful to us but are still so valuable.”
Learn more about how we're caring for our planet here