Sugar beet: sustainable and Belgian
The Raffinerie Tirlemontoise and Belgian sugar beet: a successful partnership which has already withstood several decades. The majority of the sugar produced by our group is extracted from local sugar beet (only the Candico products are made from imported sugar cane). In addition, with our well thought-out transport and investment policy we are forever strengthening the impressive sustainable properties of this raw produce.
We have around 5,000 beet planters in Belgium. From March each year they plant 47,000 hectares of agricultural land with sugar beet. Between September and January – the ‘campaign’ – the beet is dug up and taken to our factories. Here you can read about how the sugar is then extracted.
More sustainable than a wood
On an annual basis one hectare of sugar beet converts 30 tonnes of CO2 into some 13 million litres of oxygen. Four times more than a one hectare wood! In addition, the sugar beet harvest does not disturb the biodiversity and this variety has little to no need for irrigation. Furthermore, the farmers, Raffinerie Tirlemontoise and the Royal Institute for the Improvement of the Beet (KIVB) invest in better seeds each year. Together we limit the use of pesticides, meaning that today fifty percent less pesticide is used on Belgian sugar beet fields than in 1980.
The transport of beet from the field to the factory is an essential part of the campaign. Together with the farmers and hauliers we consider people and the environment as much as possible when transporting our goods. For example, the distance from field to factory is a maximum of 50 kilometres. We encourage the farmers to clean the sugar beet while it is still on the field so that more can fit into the lorries. These initiatives mean that, per campaign, 5,300 fewer journeys are needed. As far as possible we try to avoid having lorries drive back empty. How? By returning the sugar beet by-products to the farmers or hauliers after they have accomplished a delivery.
As far as safety is concerned, the Raffinerie Tirlemontoise and its hauliers take their responsibilities very seriously. In 2010 the ‘Safe beet traffic’ charter was drawn up. Already over 120 hauliers have signed it and in so doing they agree to, amongst others:
- Work responsibly, both during the loading process and when in transit;
- Show respect for the establishment and the surrounding environment.
You would like to know more about the charter?