Our Sustainability Initiatives
We pride ourselves in being first movers on many fronts. A constant drive for innovation has led European starch producers to being pioneers in the Bioeconomy, with the uses and applications of our sustainable ingredient - starch - and its derivatives expanding constantly to accomodate our customer's needs.
Similarly, for decades, the European starch sector has been a first mover on the sustainability front. Starch producers were among the first European sectors to conduct sector-wide LCA studies, starting more than 20 years ago, and over the decades, making these ever more broad and deep.
We are confident of being able to play our role in helping to reach the ambitions of EU carbon neutrality in 2050.
Our Decarbonisation Commitments
Decades of transparency
The European starch industry's commitment to playing a key role within the agri-food chain's efforts to increase sustainability has never been stronger, but it started a long time ago.
The beginning of a tradition
The European Starch Industry Association produces a first internal sectoral LCA study in 2001, to gain a better understanding of the footprint of starch products. This is both the start of a tradition of greater transparency, but also a vehicle for the internal exchange of best practices.
Some of the main conclusions of the study are:
- For almost all the starch product categories, it is the agricultural phase which has the largest environmental impact. For most starch products the agricultural phase constitutes around 2/3 of carbon footprint and 3/4 of the water depletion impact (and 100% of the agricultural land occupation impact).
- It is also important to note that a high level of uncertainty (25% at least) exists around the exact impact of the agricultural phase depending on the published data set used (which will in turn depend on the raw material used, and the cultivation place and method).
- When looking only at the manufacturing phase, the main environmental impact comes from the use of energy. The EU starch producing company invested significantly in the last decade to reduce the extent of this impact, as the majority of the EU starch production now use High Efficiency Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation.
- At less than 2% of the total environmental impact, the transport phase impact is very low. This is because the industry typically has suppliers located close to the production plants and/or uses efficient means of transport (e.g. barge or rail).
- The starch industry produces close to zero waste.
- For some starch products (those with a long life cycle, i.e. being used in non-food/feed applications), the carbon uptake of the crops will in fact outweigh the greenhouse gas emissions during the (agricultural and manufacturing) production phases.
May 2015 - LCA Study (update) published
The updated LCA study confirms that:
- For almost all the starch products and environmental impact categories, it is the agricultural phase which has the largest environmental impact.
- Compared to 2012, the updated secondary data for the agricultural phase are deemed more representative for the current standard growing conditions of European raw materials processed by the starch industry. Nevertheless, some uncertainty remains around the exact impact of the agricultural phase.
- When looking only at the manufacturing phase, the main environmental impact comes from the use of energy. In the last decade, the EU starch producing companies have invested significantly to improve their energy efficiency, and hence reduce the extent of this impact. The majority of the EU starch production now uses High Efficiency Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generation.
- At less than 10% of the total environmental impact, the transport phase impact is very low. This is because the industry typically has suppliers located close to the production plants and/or uses efficient means of transport, such as barge or rail.
- The starch industry produces close to zero waste.
- For some starch products (bio-based products, with a long life cycle, and used in non-food/non-feed applications), the carbon uptake of the crops will in fact outweigh the greenhouse gas emissions during the (agricultural and manufacturing) production phases.
April 2022 - LCA Study published
- The industry as a whole has managed to lower their CO2 emissions by 7% overall, and, when taking into account production increases, 19% per tonne of dry substance (DS) since 2009.
- The agricultural supply chain remains the largest contributor to our products’ overall environmental footprint, accounting for 77,6% of its impact.
October 2022 - Decarbonisation Roadmap
What is it
As part of a broader vision of the European starch sector for a more sustainable future, and how our sector can continue to contribute to all pillars of sustainability, we have developed a roadmap for how we could further reduce our GHG emissions in line with EU climate ambitions.
This Roadmap attempts to outline how the starch industry can contribute to the overall EU climate goals.
While starch ingredients already contribute to the decarbonisation efforts of the starch sector’s customers, there are several technologies and practices which may be deployed and implemented to reduce our sector’s own GHG emissions. To enable the implementation of these technologies, appropriate support measures will be essential.
Continue scrolling to read our decarbonisation roadmap, or click here to download it: INSERT LINK
Our Ingredients contributing to a climate neutral Europe
The ingredients of our industry make a significant contribution to the decarbonisation efforts of the starch sector’s many and varied customers, and to the broader EU Circular Bioeconomy objectives. For example: