Carbon Footprint of Sugar Production

CO2e: 2kg per kg of white sugar (1 day, 7 hours)


‘A comparative analysis of the production and processing of sugar beet and sugar cane in Morocco was carried out with regards to energy and water use. Total agricultural energy inputs for sugar beet were 33.79 GJ/ha and in the case of sugar cane were 59.33 GJ/ha for plant cane and 35.65 GJ/ha for ratoons. The major energy inputs for both were diesel fuel, electricity and fertilisers. In sugar beet production fertiliser application accounted for more than 50% of total agricultural energy inputs. The most energy intensive operations in sugar cane production were irrigation (37%) and fertiliser application (29%). The input:output energy ratios were 1:3.2 for sugar beet and 1:3.7 for sugar cane. Total energy used in processing was 26.19 GJ/tonne white sugar (tws) from sugar beet and 3.02 GJ/tws from sugar cane. Direct energy in processing was 22.51 GJ/tws for sugar beet and 1.27 GJ/tws for sugar cane. Overall (production + processing) input:output energy ratio was 1:1.5 for sugar beet and 1:4.2 for sugar cane. Overall analysis demonstrated that the production of sugar from sugar beet is more energy intensive than from sugar cane while the sugar cane requires larger inputs of water.’

(Note: Estimating that 5 tonnes of beet sugar come from 1 hectare of land we get about 6.5 GJ /tonne (33.79/5) for the agricultural energy. 1 tonne of white sugar requires 26.19 GJ/tonne for processing making approximately 33GJ per tonne in total. This is 33 megajoules per kilogram. Assume 70 gm of CO2e per megajoule for heat energy. This gives 2kg of Co2e per kg of white sugar. The 70 gm figure was estimated on the CarbonDioxideProducedInGeneratingElectricityFromCoal page.’