Business Approach

Tongaat Hulett is dependent on constrained natural resources. It is therefore in its best interest to protect the environment for future generations. The business is improving its environmental efficiency and is involving its stakeholders in activities to optimise environmental performance along the value chain. The company’s environmental approach is premised on the concept of building value for all stakeholders while working in harmony with nature. It works towards achieving integration between the environment and its agri-processing and property development operations. Research is regularly undertaken to measure and monitor the impact of operations on the environment and implement systems to ensure that resources are used in a sustainable manner.

Effectively dealing with the impacts that climate change and water security could have directly on Tongaat Hulett and indirectly, through its value chain, remains a key challenge. When viewed within the context of a growing and increasingly affluent global population that is consuming more natural resources and producing more waste, there is increasing pressure on the environment. Key potential impacts include ecosystem disruption, food scarcity and rising energy costs, which further highlights the need for the business to constructively engage with the relevant stakeholders to identify solutions to mitigate these risks.

Policies and practices are in place to ensure that operations are managed within the relevant statutory and legal parameters as a minimum and Tongaat Hulett’s self-defined best practice requirements. The business continues to evaluate its carbon and water footprint and is identifying new approaches to understand and deal with potential opportunities and consequences of both climate change and constrained water supplies in the future.

Climate Change

Climate change has the potential to impact on the availability of clean water and hence the long-term provision of continuous, safe, high-quality raw materials. Tongaat Hulett believes society must take measures to reduce air emissions and to adapt to climate change.

The company has identified potential risks and opportunities due to climate change and is taking action to mitigate and adapt to these risks whilst taking advantage of emerging opportunities. The business is committed to lowering the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the production and distribution of its products. Tongaat Hulett is focused on working to improve the energy efficiency of its operations which includes switching to cleaner fuels, where necessary. The generation of renewable electricity from bagasse and the blending of biofuel with petrol and diesel will help consumers to lower their own GHG emissions. The business continues to work with private farmers to improve their resilience to climate change.

Tongaat Hulett’s property development activities make use of both mitigation and adaptation measures towards proactively responding to climate change realities. These measures include appropriate and sensitive land use and spatial planning, compact city approach to density and intensity, appropriate stormwater management, extensive rehabilitated and managed natural habitat and water and energy demand management measures.

Tongaat Hulett’s climate change policy recognises the importance of proactively managing the impacts of climate change, and positively commits the business to implementing both mitigation and adaptation programmes where appropriate. The business is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent per annum for the next 5 years and is targeting at least a 20 percent reduction by 2020 from a 2011 baseline.

Carbon Management

Climate change is integrated into the business’s company-wide risk management processes and a detailed discussion on this important topic is included in Tongaat Hulett’s latest submission to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The CDP is an independent initiative encouraging transparency on all climate change related issues and providing details of emissions performance. As part of the CDP process, the company conducted its fourth carbon footprint analysis and the analysis was conducted according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a widely used international accounting tool. Details of the company’s actions underway are provided in the public response to the CDP (www.cdproject.net). Tongaat Hulett tracks and monitors its GHG emissions and will continue to improve the accuracy and reporting of its carbon footprint.

Direct or Scope 1 emissions are those arising directly from owned or company controlled sources. These include, for example, emissions from combustion in owned or controlled boilers, furnaces, vehicles and emissions from chemical production in owned or controlled process equipment. During the year, business operations emitted 885 976 tons CO2 (Scope 1 emissions). Indirect, or Scope 2, emissions are those emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by Tongaat Hulett. The company purchased electricity that emitted 360 258 tons of CO2. Scope 3 covers all other indirect emissions that arise as a consequence of the business’s activities. The total Scope 3 emissions were 7 571 tons CO2 covering business travel, supply chain transport and distribution by third party companies. In the reporting period, employees booked nearly 3 219 business trips, flying more than 6 142 746 kilometers, resulting in 1 179 tons CO2 being emitted from business travel. All 2012 Scope 3 emissions were offset with a project based in Durban. The total Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions for the period under review was 1 246 234 tons equivalent (-e) and the turnover was R 14,373 billion, which equates to 86 grams of CO2 emitted per rand generated.

Carbon tax legislation in South Africa is currently evolving. The South African sugar operations could benefit from the carbon capture and storage of CO2 in the growing of sugar cane. Consequently this part of the business should be well placed to offset a substantial part of its emissions on this basis.

Total South African emissions of 763 578 tons CO2-e include emissions of 539 429 tons CO2-e emanating from the South African sugar operations. In factoring carbon sequestration, a possible offset of 12 tons per hectare from sugar cane produced on 27 659 hectares (grown from Tongaat Hulett owned and leased land) equates to 207 521 tons CO2-e. The GHG emissions have been verified by a third party service provider.

Carbon Footprint


Tongaat Hulett is continuously identifying and where appropriate, implementing opportunities to reduce the energy and water footprints in each of its operations, with its factory operations being prioritised. The imminent introduction of a suitable regulatory framework in South Africa will result in Tongaat Hulett expanding the business’s ability to generate electricity from bagasse, a renewable resource produced as a co-product with sugar. As an integral part of these projects, the energy efficiency of the sugar mill which supplies the fuel to the electricity generating plant is targeted to be improved by some 30 percent. This energy efficiency improvement will be critical to enable full utilisation of the bagasse for electricity generation.

Sugar cane is a highly effective convertor of sunlight into biomass, and globally is a key raw material for a rapidly growing industry in biofuel and renewable electricity generation. Tongaat Hulett’s mills have produced renewable electricity for the supply of power to run the mills for many years and have routinely supplied electricity into selected national grids, albeit on a small scale. In line with global trends, the focus is now on upgrading the generation of renewable electricity using highly efficient technology to produce substantially more electrical power from the same amount of fibre, thereby increasing the quantity of renewable electricity available to the national grid. The central sugar refinery uses coal, while the starch operation uses coal and gas to generate steam used in the production processes. Electricity is either purchased or generated for use in initiating production purposes and to supply power to offices and other support services. Energy efficiency projects include lighting, heating, variable speed drives, process efficiency improvements, ventilation and air conditioning. Motion sensors are installed in some administrative offices such as the Meadowdale office, resulting in a 20 percent saving on electricity costs.

For the period to 31 March 2013, Tongaat Hulett used 774 302 MWh of electricity in all its operations and offices. It generated 427 376 MWh from its sugar mills, predominantly from bagasse and sold 36 323 MWh. In the previous reporting period ended 31 March 2012, Tongaat Hulett used 530 249 MWh of electricity, generated 392 202 MWh and sold 29 223 MWh. Other sources of fuel that are used include coal, diesel, petrol, gas and wood.

Air Quality

Since sugar mills primarily burn bagasse as a fuel, the flue gases from the boilers do not contain harmful levels of contaminants. Wet scrubbing technology is used to remove fly-ash from the flue gas to ensure that emissions meet the required standard. The recent South African legislative changes to air quality standards are far more stringent and present a challenge for the sugar industry as a whole and an appropriate action plan to ensure compliance with new standards has been formulated. The South African sugar operations have submitted applications for their air emission licenses, particularly in the context of the new standards.

Some sugar mills and in particular the central sugar refinery in the Durban South Industrial Basin burn coal as a boiler fuel and therefore have a greater challenge in terms of emission reduction, as required by the recent legislative amendments. The refinery is currently in negotiation with the authorities regarding revised emission targets in line with the development of innovative process technology, which will have significant energy efficiency benefits. An R18 million budget for a plant to test this technology has been approved and the project is targeted for commissioning in 2014.

At present, air quality is monitored on a daily basis at the refinery due to the significance of the emissions generated (sulphur dioxide (SO2) and particulates), with all relevant stakeholders receiving access to regular performance reports, as well as an annual emissions report. Installation of on-line monitoring equipment to further enhance emission monitoring accuracy was completed during 2012.

Biodiversity and Land Management

Tongaat Hulett controls over 20 000 gross hectares of land in South Africa of which some 13 500 hectares have been assessed as having high potential for conversion from agriculture to other uses at the appropriate time. This conversion is carefully managed in a coordinated and planned manner in line with broader Government objectives and spatial policies. At the same time the business continues to rehabilitate currently unproductive land to agriculture in support of government’s agricultural and rural development goals and objectives, while also securing additional sugar cane supply to its mills.

Improving enviromental performance metrics

These conversion activities are based fundamentally around sustainable development principles and will see over 5 000 hectares of land being rehabilitated into natural habitat, with formal management models being created to ensure the long term sustainable maintenance of these assets for the benefit of the broader region. In terms of the socio-economic legs of the sustainable development philosophy, conversion of this land will also see the creation of new employment, housing, social, recreational and commercial opportunities as well as the associated new capital investment. These development opportunities will be facilitated as an integral component of the growth of sustainable cities premised on appropriate densities, public transportation, mixed and multi uses and integration of surrounding communities.

The business continues to work closely with communities, authorities and Non-Government Organisations in its land management, planning and conversion activities towards facilitating the most appropriate activities and uses of its land in line with the region’s needs and government’s spatial planning policies and objectives.

Water Resource Management

Tongaat Hulett continues to address water challenges with key partners that include private farmers, local communities and the relevant authorities. The business is a signatory of the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate and is committed to effective water resource management throughout its operations. A growing population in the SADC region, demographic shifts from rural areas to cities and the impacts of climate change are contributing to concerns related to fresh water availability. With two-thirds of all fresh water used in agriculture and demand for water set to rise by some 50% by the year 2030, water scarcity is a possible scenario for a third of the world’s population.

The Water Policy which documents Tongaat Hulett’s view on key elements include: prioritising sustainable management and effective use of water resources, local water resource optimisation and protection. It continues to identify opportunities for water recycling, efficient use and responsible waste water disposal. Tongaat Hulett’s sugar operations are in various locations within the SADC region and different water techniques are applied across operations. As a result of the fact that the sugar cane plant comprises approximately 70 percent water, sugar mills in South Africa are net producers of water. Most of the sugar cane cultivated in South Africa is dependent on natural rainfall, while operations in Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, practice large-scale irrigation via purpose-built canal systems with water being extracted from rivers. The management of these canals and irrigation systems is in keeping with the highest agronomy and safety standards.

During the reporting period, Tongaat Hulett completed the Product Water Footprint for 1kg of refined white sugar in South Africa using a global standard. This assessment was performed on behalf of the business by an external service provider and confirmed that the water required by Tongaat Hulett to produce 1kg of refined white sugar is lower than the global average as stated by the Water Footprint Network.

Tongaat Hulett reported its water usage in the product manufacturing process for the period under review as 8 400 685m3, with a further 6 007 061m3 being purified at various mills and supplied to local Municipalities as potable water. This metric, reported for the second time, provides a single, aggregated overview of water demand across company operations. The company continued its engagement with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to identify future rainfall patterns and water scarcity due to the evolving impact of climate change. In the previous year ended 31 March 2012, Tongaat Hulett used 10 258 000m3 with a further 65 851 291m3 sold to municipalities as potable water.

Fresh water is an important resource for Tongaat Hulett


Subsequent to the “zero effluent” philosophy that has been adopted by several operations to minimise the quantity of liquid effluent leaving each mill or plant, most of Tongaat Hulett’s sugar mills recycle and re-use water within the factories, while the remaining effluent undergoes biological treatment (aerobic and anaerobic) to reduce its chemical oxygen demand to acceptable levels before being discharged in accordance with the relevant environmental requirements. The remaining mills are developing environmental management programmes to adopt best practices and ensure legal compliance as a minimum. Water that is produced as part of the sugar milling process is largely used for the irrigation of sugar cane on adjacent estates and effluent produced at the central sugar refinery is disposed of into the municipal sewer for treatment, and both the quantity and quality thereof is monitored to ensure compliance with the relevant specifications.

Waste Management

Some company operations have re-engineered and refined services in order to reduce waste and increase resource productivity, and these initiatives have yielded savings through offering new revenue streams from the sale, exchange and recycling of waste products. A significant increase in recycle material volumes was noted for this reporting period.

The starch operations have contributed to the considerable increase in recycled waste volumes. Some of the new practices implemented included the recycling of coal ash into block making and the recycling of the fats and proteins generated from the glucose manufacturing process into farming material. In addition, the implementation of onsite separation of general waste into recyclable and non-recyclable waste has also contributed to the growth in this number.

In line with the legal requirements in Zimbabwe, boiler ash has been re-classified as hazardous waste, during the reporting period, thereby resulting in the growth of this number when compared to the prior period. Initiatives are continuing to improve the level of reporting.

Period General Waste (tons) Scrap Metal (tons) Hazardous Waste (tons) Recycled Waste (tons)
2012 11 853 1 815 302 36 466
2013 11 436 4 152 3 084 53 694