The World Bank

Sugar Manufacturing Industry - Pollution Prevention Guidelines


Courtesy of Courtesy of The World Bank


Pollution Prevention Guidelines to provide technical advice and guidance to staff and consultants involved in pollution-related projects. The guidelines represent state-of-the-art thinking on how to reduce pollution emissions from the production process. In many cases, the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Industry Description and Practices
  • Waste Characteristics
  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Target Pollution Loads
  • Treatment Technologies
  • Emissions Guidelines
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Key Issues
  • Sources

Industry Description and Practices

The sugar industry processes sugar cane and sugar beet to manufacture edible sugar. More than 60% of the world’s sugar production is from sugar cane; the balance is from sugar beet. Sugar manufacturing is a highly seasonal industry, with season lengths of about 6 to 18 weeks for beets and 20 to 32 weeks for cane. Approximately 10% of the sugar cane can be processed to commercial sugar, using approximately 20 cubic meters of water per metric ton (m3/t) of cane processed. Sugar cane contains 70% water; 14% fiber; 13.3% saccharose (about 10 to 15% sucrose), and 2.7% soluble impurities.

Sugar canes are generally washed, after which juice is extracted from them. The juice is clarified to remove mud, evaporated to prepare syrup, crystallized to separate out the liquor, and centrifuged to separate molasses from the crystals. Sugar crystals are then dried and may be further refined before bagging for shipment. In some places (for example, in South Africa), juice is extracted by a diffusion process that can give higher rates of extraction with lower energy consumption and reduced operating and maintenance costs.

For processing sugar beet (water, 75%; sugar, 17%), only the washing, preparation, and extraction processes are different. After washing, the beet is sliced, and the slices are drawn into a slowly rotating diffuser where a countercurrent flow of water is used to remove sugar from the beet slices. Approximately 15 cubic meters (m3) of water and 28 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy are consumed per metric ton of beet processed.

Sugar refining involves removal of impurities and decolorization. The steps generally followed include affination (mingling and centrifugation), melting, clarification, decolorization, evaporation, crystallization, and finishing. Decolorization methods use granular activated carbon, powdered activated carbon, ion exchange resins, and other materials.

Waste Characteristics

The main air emissions from sugar processing and refining result primarily from the combustion of bagasse (the fiber residue of sugar cane), fuel oil, or coal. Other air emission sources include juice fermentation units, evaporators, and sulfitation units. Approximately 5.5 kilograms of fly ash per metric ton (kg/t) of cane processed (or 4,500 mg/m3 of fly ash) are present in the flue gases from the combustion of bagasse. Sugar manufacturing effluents typically have biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) of 1,700– 6,600 milligrams per liter (mg/l) in untreated effluent from cane processing and 4,000–7,000 mg/l from beet processing; chemical oxygen demand (COD) of 2,300–8,000 mg/l from cane processing and up to 10,000 mg/l from beet processing; total suspended solids of up to 5,000
mg/l; and high ammonium content. The wastewater may contain pathogens from contaminated materials or production processes. A sugar mill often generates odor and dust, which need to be controlled. Most of the solid wastes can be processed into other products and by-products. In some cases, pesticides may be present in the sugar cane rinse liquids.

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