Page Rip

30 November 2016

Using resources responsibly: minimising waste in China and the UK


Responsible and efficient use of resources is central to AB Sugar’s environmental priorities. Minimising process inputs and reducing waste are key areas of focus across its businesses. 

What we did

AB Sugar’s sugar operations operate an advanced manufacturing model that avoids waste by turning process outputs into inputs for a wide range of products.  Our products include electricity, renewable fuels, animal feeds, aggregates and fertilisers. 

For example, our sugar beet operations work closely with farmers to minimise the amount of soil and stones received with the deliveries of beet. Any materials not recovered on farm are cleaned from the beet during the initial processing of the crop at the sugar manufacturing site. These are then recovered and conditioned to high quality products before use in construction and landscaping.

Within our advanced manufacturing model, our sugar operations continue to drive improvements in waste recycling.

In the UK, implementation of site-based waste recycling and reduction initiatives, such as waste segregation, had driven waste recycling rates up to 74% beyond which it was proving difficult to increase. To improve performance, British Sugar partnered with a new waste management company to target zero non-hazardous waste to landfill.

Our sugar operations in China have increased the segregation and management of their different waste streams over the last two years. This has allowed the sites to identify suitable waste contractors to provide a range of treatment, recycling and re-use opportunities.


British Sugar’s partnership approach, now in its second year, has increased the waste recycling rate to 98% of all waste generated – equivalent to only 162 grams of waste disposal for each tonne of sugar made.

In China, despite challenges with costs and limitations to the waste infrastructure in their remote locations, the sites recycled nearly 50% of their waste in 2016. Beyond clear benefits to the environment, the drive to increase recycling rates has had a positive impact on the local economy, creating job opportunities in remote locations and demonstrating a responsible approach to the management of resources. 

Share this case study:

More case studies:

4 March 2021
How Fairtrade helps growers to build resilience to climate change
23 July 2020
A local approach to a global pandemic
18 December 2019
Demonstrating water stewardship excellence in Zambia
31 October 2019
The secret to making health and safety second nature for everyone - insight into Azucarera’s internationally recognised approach
1 March 2019
Protecting Magombera Nature Forest Reserve for generations to come
19 February 2019
Support services enhanced for South Africa’s small-scale sugar cane growers
29 August 2018
More crop per drop – AB Sugar’s approach to water stewardship
13 August 2018
Establishing land rights for growers in Mozambique – Illovo Sugar Africa
4 July 2018
More than sugar - AB Sugar’s Circular Economy
27 March 2018
Online food teaching course for primary school teachers
15 February 2018
Encouraging biodiversity at British Sugar
31 January 2018
Environmental leadership in the UK beet sugar industry
23 January 2018
Monitoring, reducing and re-using water in our operations
22 January 2018
Placing energy generation and efficiency at the heart of our business
26 September 2017
A collaborative approach delivers results across our international business
9 March 2017
Building thriving communities through diversity – British Sugar and the WISE Campaign
27 January 2017
Recruiting the next generation
20 January 2017
Making Sense of Sugar online content reaches 1 million views
16 January 2017
Food education kits for primary schools
6 January 2017
Illovo – supporting rural communities in Africa through health services and education
6 January 2017
Connecting our people and building expertise across our businesses
4 January 2017
Transforming sugar harvesting and delivery through technology
16 December 2016
Protecting Land Rights in Illovo
12 December 2016
Embedding Sustainable Agriculture in China
7 December 2016
Supporting development in Africa
7 December 2016
Ensuring fair trade for farmers in southern Africa
30 November 2016
Pulp sun-drying project in Spain
11 November 2016
Supplying renewable energy to Swaziland’s National Grid
11 November 2016
Promoting better water management across our supply chain in Illovo, southern Africa.
more case studies >
AB Sugar China Azucarera British Sugar Germains Seed Technology Illovo Sugar Group Vivergo Fuelds