The Sugarcane Agroindustry in Guatemala transforms waste into a resource


The Sugarcane Agroindustry in Guatemala utilizes waste in a Circular Economy system. A clear example of this practice is the use of sugarcane bagasse as a valuable source for renewable energy generation.

Circular Economy aims to promote the reuse, recycling, and renewal of resources instead of following the traditional “use and dispose” model. Sugarcane bagasse is a fibrous residue left as a byproduct after extracting sugarcane juice in the sugar industry. Instead of being discarded, sugar mills use this residue for renewable energy generation.

Sugarcane bagasse is used as fuel in boilers to generate steam. This steam is then used to produce electricity through a process called cogeneration. This form of renewable energy generation offers multiple benefits for both the Sugarcane Agroindustry and the environment.

The Guatemalan Sugar Industry cogenerates renewable energy

Renewable Energy vs. Fossil Fuels

By harnessing sugarcane bagasse as an energy source, the need for using fossil fuels like coal or oil to produce electricity is reduced. This contributes to the diversification of energy sources and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases, thus aiding in the fight against climate change.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable natural resources formed over millions of years; burning them releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The gradual shift away from fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy is crucial to addressing current environmental and social challenges.

Generacion de energía renovable con biomasa de caña de azúcar

The utilization of sugarcane bagasse as a source of renewable energy is a concrete and successful example of how circular economy can be integrated into agroindustry to promote more sustainable practices.

By turning waste into a valuable resource, energy generation from sugarcane bagasse benefits both the Sugarcane Agroindustry in Guatemala and the environment. This practice can serve as a model for other industries and pave the way for a more circular and planet-friendly economy.

More than 2700 youngsters have graduated in the “Opportunities for Study” Program of the Guatemalan Sugarcane Agroindustry

In an ongoing effort to provide educational opportunities and enhance employment prospects for youth in Guatemala’s South Coast, the Guatemalan Sugarcane Association (Asazgua) has initiated a program that has trained and graduated over 2,700 young individuals through the “Opportunities for Study” program, driven by the sugarcane agroindustry.

The scholarships granted by sugar mills through Asazgua have enabled these young individuals to access high-quality technical education across various disciplines at the Technical Training Institute (Intecap).

Fields of study encompass industrial mechanics, automotive electromechanics, industrial welding, industrial electronics technician, automotive mechanics, milling machine mechanics, as well as hydraulic circuit maintenance.

Alfredo Vila, President of Asazgua, has expressed his pride in the “Opportunities for Study” program, which not only contributes to the technical education of young individuals but also enhances the country’s human resource competitiveness. He emphasized the commitment of the Guatemalan Sugarcane Association to promoting education and development in the region.

This program has been made possible through collaboration between the sugarcane industry and the Technical Training Institute, forging a robust partnership to drive personal and professional growth among the youth.

In the Sugarcane Agroindustry, we firmly believe that investing in the education and development of young individuals is a pivotal step towards a more prosperous and sustainable future.

UNISAN Drives Sustainable Development through Water and Sanitation in Guatemala

The Sugar Cane Agroindustry has a specialized technical unit dedicated to the development of technical studies for the implementation of potable water, sanitary sewer construction, and treatment plants in Guatemala. This service, named the Engineering and Sanitation Unit – UNISAN – was established in 2001 and is provided at no cost to the communities.

UNISAN engineers and technicians conduct studies for potable water, sanitary sewers, and wastewater treatment plants with a 20-year outlook, considering demographic growth. Upon completion, they provide communities with a descriptive report that includes the execution budget, timeline, and hydraulic design calculations. It also encompasses operation and maintenance manuals, material technical specifications, and plans endorsed and stamped by an active licensed engineer.

This support holds significant meaning for the communities, as they would otherwise need to pay amounts that could even range from USD 25 to USD 40 thousand to hire specialized companies for these studies. These studies are crucial, as they are a government requirement in the infrastructure development process.

With these studies, the communities take charge of managing and progressing through the governmental procedures involved.

We must not forget that access to secure water systems and adequate sanitation services are key elements in enhancing people’s quality of life and promoting socio-economic growth in rural areas of the country.

Thanks to the investment and commitment of the Sugar Cane Agroindustry, through Fundazucar, a total of 301 technical studies have been carried out in southern Guatemala to date. These studies have been instrumental in identifying critical areas and specific needs of each community, thereby enabling the implementation of effective solutions tailored to local conditions.

Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

UNISAN’s work aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, specifically with SDG 6, which aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Additionally, this initiative directly contributes to SDG 3, which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.

UNISAN and Fundazucar’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainable development has been recognized by various stakeholders, including international organizations and local governments, who highlight the importance of these actions for the country’s progress.

The Sugar Cane Agroindustry, through Fundazucar, undertakes transformative projects that have a positive impact on the quality of life for local communities. Its dedication to the Sustainable Development Goals and its long-term vision makes UNISAN a fundamental initiative for Guatemala’s prosperous future.