In 2011, Shell and Brazilian company Cosan set up a joint venture, Raízen (Shell interest 50%), which produces, sells, distributes and blends ethanol from sugar cane. In 2014, Raízen produced more than 2 billion litres of low-carbon biofuel from Brazilian sugar cane.
The production process at the mills is designed to reduce its environmental footprint. Raízen by-products from the cane crushing and distillation processes are recycled as natural fertilisers. Waste sugar cane fibres are used as fuel to generate electricity for the mills. The mills reduce water consumption by using rainfall to water the crops and by recycling water during the manufacturing process.
Raízen has mechanised the production process so that more cane can be produced from the same area of land − 97% of its own harvest of sugar cane is mechanised. The mechanisation process helps to reduce greenhouse gas and particulate matter emissions caused by manual harvesting.
Sugar cane ethanol has one of the best CO2 performances compared with almost any other conventional biofuel available today in commercial volumes. This ethanol can reduce CO2 emissions by around 70% compared with petrol, based on cultivation of the sugar cane through to using the ethanol as fuel.
Raízen was the first company to certify a sugar cane mill using the Bonsucro sustainability standard in 2011. Bonsucro is a robust standard that certifies sugar cane, globally, for its social and environmental criteria. Raízen continues to work towards the certification of its 24 sugar cane mills to the Bonsucro standard. By the end of 2014, two further mills were certified taking the total to 12.