- Sustainability can have many definitions, and can mean many things to different businesses.
- At Bunge, we have built sustainability into the core of our business – through investments, operations, and strategy.
- Our approach includes robust action on climate, creating responsible supply chains, and ensuring accountability for all that we do.
- Bunge’s approach is aligned with global efforts like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Sustainability has become a frequently used buzzword. It seems every company focuses on how to be more “sustainable” so they can appeal to their customers. From production methods to packaging and transportation, to consumption and reaching out to help with social causes, having a sustainable label generates greater interest and demand.
But what exactly is sustainability? And is it about more than just making a sale?
At Bunge, sustainability is a concept we advance across our business and culture – not because everyone else is doing it, but because it is the right thing to do for our environment, our supply chain, and the world’s consumers. What makes up our approach to sustainability is continually evolving, but sustainability has always been at the core of our 200-year-old business.
Simply stated, at Bunge, this means we factor the environmental and social challenges we must address into the daily business decisions we make while we continue to connect farmers to consumers to deliver the food, feed and fuel that society depends on every day.
We continue to encourage our leaders around the globe to embrace sustainable decision-making, while collaborating with our customers at both ends of the supply chain and uncovering new business opportunities throughout our value chains. We find the best ways to help feed the world while maintaining a responsible supply chain from farm to fork, with a focus on three pillars: action on climate change, promoting responsible supply chains and providing accountability.
Action on Climate Change
Bunge is firmly committed to finding tangible solutions to the climate crisis in both our operations and in our supply chains. We continue to advance our climate strategy with carbon-focused decision making, and we constantly strive to minimize our environmental footprint, taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address water scarcity.
We know there is a relationship between climate change and food security. We look for the best ways to minimize agriculture’s environmental footprint and support projects and activities that can fight climate change while providing plenty of food for a growing population at the same time. It is a process that requires us to work with farmers all the way through the supply chain to food and brand customers. All of these links have their own climate action goals, but they want to see how Bunge connects sustainable concepts all the way to their doors, too.
At the farmer level, one way we are contributing to action on climate change is to connect farmers with conservation groups like Precision Conservation Management (PCM) in Illinois and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Both organizations help farmers use the right conservation practices to address environmental challenges while maximizing productivity.
Within Bunge, we focus on helping farmers that deliver their harvested crops to our facilities within about a 50-mile radius of each of them. For example, near our Danville, Illinois, Crete, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa, plants, we have a cost-share program to supply cover crop seed for farmers to minimize their risk of adopting new practices while improving soil health.
At our plants, we have implemented an Energy Optimization Program that reduces energy using modern software technology to monitor and optimize consumption. Likewise, we have increased our plant efficiencies to reduce freshwater consumption by 10 percent from 2016 to the end of 2026 and had already achieved a 21.2 percent reduction through 2019.
Promote Responsible Supply Chains
The integration of sustainability into the fabric of our business means working together with our suppliers to create positive environmental and social impact everywhere we have a presence. Since the supply chain begins at the farm level, we want to ensure ingredients are sustainably sourced through global traceability programs that we can track all the way back to producers.
To that end, Bunge joined with Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture to integrate the sustainability metrics of Field to Market’s Fieldprint Platform into Bunge’s Centerfield Program. This not only allows us to offer Field to Market’s outcomes-based approach to measuring farmer sustainability directly, it also supports our downstream customers interested in assessing the aggregated sustainability performance of U.S. crops.
Essentially, Bunge Centerfield has become a link that goes from growers through us to food companies. Using the Fieldprint Platform, farmers can document key sustainability indicators that include land use, soil conservation, irrigation water use, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as biodiversity, soil carbon and water quality. Our merchandising managers can share aggregate data with customers to validate that sustainable practices are in play.
We also promote responsible supply chains through efforts worldwide. Since 2015, we have been committed to deforestation-free supply chains. We hope to be 100 percent deforestation-free by 2025. That includes South American soybean and Southeast Asia palm oil production.
We are involved with Agroideal, a tool that is used by South American farmers to sustainably expand soybean production. Users integrate agronomic, environmental, and other data to make better decisions about land use. We also facilitate innovative financing concepts for soybean expansion using a unique mechanism that allows farmers to grow without deforestation.
Bunge places a high priority on accountability for its sustainable efforts. That is reflected in the fact that we have a global sustainability team that reports directly to our CEO and board of directors. We want to be an example of leadership for the industry and raise the bar on implementing sustainable agriculture practices that protect and improve the environment, while supporting the social and economic well-being of farmers and communities.
Social responsibility is critical for us to successfully operate in hundreds of communities. We take part in activities that not only support the wellbeing and growth of our neighbors through employment and investments, but also volunteer to make communities a better place.
For example, we support Living Lands & Waters, a non-profit environmental organization headquartered in East Moline, Illinois, that has made its mission to be the only “industrial strength” river cleanup organization in the world. Crews live on a barge and travel the Mississippi River to host river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other key conservation efforts. The Mississippi River is the most significant transportation channel to get ag commodities to the Gulf of Mexico for export to the world.
We also, as individual employees and as a company, continue to donate our time and talents to the many efforts to relieve the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
Bunge supports the economic and social well-being of workers in the countries where Bunge has a presence as well. One example is Academia Bunge, a technical improvement center to assist bakeries, restaurants, and pastry shops across Brazil. Bunge has helped get shea rollers to women in Africa collecting shea nuts, so they no longer have to bend and crouch to complete their jobs.
Align with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
All three areas of Bunge’s sustainability focus, action on climate change, promoting responsible supply chains and providing accountability, are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that Bunge and other companies around the world plan to meet by 2030.
For example, our sustainability approach for action on climate change supports UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, while responsible supply chains help support the life on land SDG 15 and decent work and economic growth SDG 8. SDGs 16 and 17 describe the need for peace, justice and strong institutions and partnerships to support advances in social, economic, and environmental goals. For more information about these specific SDGs, click here.
The official bottom line? Embracing sustainability throughout our business is an ongoing journey that requires constant attention from our business leaders and our partners. Bunge believes in a robust, transparent approach to good governance and stakeholder engagement that allows our business and our peers to follow through on our policies and activities so we can achieve greater sustainability of the global food system. Discover how Bunge can partner in your success.