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Indian Sugar Industry: Contributing towards sustainable development

by Uneeb Khan
Indian Sugar Industry - Trivenigroup

The sugar industry has been a major economical contributor to the country for the last 4 decades. Taking a step ahead, the sugar industry is now becoming a major contributor to sustainable development, whether it is about making ethanol for sustainable mobility or using bagasse to generate electricity. The sugar industry has been the flag bearer of the ‘Make in India’ initiative because of its large-scale sugarcane cultivation and has the potential to become one of the world’s major ethanol producers. The Government of India and the Indian sugar sector are collaborating to meet the objective of 20% ethanol blending in petroleum by 2025.

Implications of sugar by-products 

Throughout the value chain of the sugar industry, all residues, and co-products (bagasse, molasses, filter cakes – popularly known as press muds) are utilized as feedstock for other value-added products like fuels, electricity, value-added chemicals, biodegradable cutlery, and are slated to be utilized for a host of other products. This helps to increase sustainability by manufacturing a variety of bio-based goods. 

The use of resources is aimed to produce green power (ethanol and electricity), which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions; as well as the production of biofuels and chemicals from ethanol. This usage in turn provides a model for how a crop such as sugarcane can be used to produce a variety of valuable products used for a variety of applications. The recent Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) program of the Government of India, in which the sugar sector supplies a significant portion of ethanol, demonstrates that fossil fuels have an alternative, and green fuel produced from sugarcane-based sources is an example of this novel paradigm. 

The Economic Benefits

Additionally, because ethanol is made locally from crops grown domestically, it increases the country’s energy independence and decreases reliance on foreign oil thus saving precious forex. 

One of the bio-energy sources from the sugar industry is compressed biogas, which may contribute well to self-reliance in the energy sector of the country. Around 3% of the total compressed biogas potential of the country which is around 2 million tonnes of 62 million tonnes can be produced from sugar industry by-products like Spent Wash, Filter Cake (Press Mud)  

The Indian sugar sector also aspires to provide farmers with long-term value through enhancing resource efficiency, rejuvenating ecosystems, and boosting rural communities. Experts from the sugar industry, research institutes, and Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) are constantly making efforts to promote sustainable agriculture practices. They regularly educate farmers about new sugarcane cultivation methods, improved varieties, water management, biological control methods, bio-fertilizers, mechanization, marketing, and pre-and post-harvest management of products to reduce overall environmental impact. 


The global markets are in a transition period, with a constant push to enhance efficiency while still pursuing sustainable development. This has increased the demand for all resources, including food, feed and energy. Asian countries account for the lion’s share of the whole demand, with fast-growing economies such as India which is poised to make a quantum jump in economic growth.

We rely on imports for 83 % of our oil needs, which costs us roughly Rs. 120 billion ($1.74 billion). Biofuels offer the advantages of lowering import reliance on crude oil, cleaning up the environment, providing additional revenue to farmers, and creating jobs in rural regions. 

Triveni encompasses four state-of-the-art distilleries spread across Muzaffarnagar (MZN), Sabitgarh (SBT), and Milak Narayanpur (MNP) with 660 KLPD current capacity. High-quality Ethanol is manufactured at the SBT distillery. The distillery at MNP is a multi-feed distillery while MZN houses two distilleries with the latest being a grain-based distillery. MZN, an existing facility of 200 KLPD, also boasts of flexible product manufacturing capability – Ethanol, Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA), Rectified Spirit (RS), and Denatured Spirit (SDS). The grain-based distillery manufactures superior quality ENA as well as Ethanol with broken/damaged rice as a feedstock that can be supplied to IMFL manufacturers and can be utilized for captive consumption.

The program complements the Government of India’s goals for Make in India, Swachh Bharat, and increasing farmer income. The sugar business is an excellent illustration of a burgeoning sustainable system with several opportunities for self-sufficiency.


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