Sustainable Industry

Waste management and reuse is Bem Brasil’s mantra

Based in Minas Gerais and a leader in the frozen fried potato business, Bem Brasil conducts a number of actions on an ongoing basis to ensure social and environmental responsibility

Brazil’s diverse domestic industry and supply of natural resources provide excellent opportunities for the country to develop sustainably, and the food industry in Brazil has been working hard on that front.

As a leader in the production of frozen fried potatoes and dehydrated potato flakes, Bem Brasil Alimentos focuses on the circular economy for waste management, fertigation and composting.

Founded in 2006, Bem Brasil currently has two plants in the Triângulo Mineiro region: one in Araxá and one in Perdizes, which became operational in 2017. Together, they generate over 880 direct jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs. Bem Brasil produces more than 250,000 tons of frozen fried potatoes, and its offerings include more than twenty food service and retail items in Brazil.

The company has continuously sought to adopt sustainable practices in its production line since its foundation 15 years ago. Bem Brasil Alimentos’s sustainable initiatives are in line with the strategy of the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) towards a low-carbon economy in Brazil based on the pillars of energy transition, carbon market, circular economy, and forest conservation.

“Sustainable development meets the needs of the current generation, but without compromising the existence of future generations,” says Isabela Navarro, Sustainability Manager at Bem Brasil. “For this reason, corporate responsibility is in the company’s DNA, with an increasing sense of eco-efficient and transparent management. Unsustainable practices are doomed to fail,” she says.

Waste management – ​​A highlight is the Circular Economy project. Its primary objective is to promote a shift away from a culture of linearity by adding value to previously discarded products.

Waste management includes Styrofoam management. This is intended for companies that use Styrofoam as a raw material, such as the manufacture of blocks in civil construction. Currently, Bem Brasil uses this to build its cold storage chambers for fresh potatoes.

Class I waste (hazardous waste) is sorted and stored in a separate location with controlled access. This goes to incineration companies instead of landfills.

Bem Brasil also extracts starch in its production process, which goes to companies that use it as a by-product in the manufacture of glue and gum for textile products. The company handled about two thousand tons of starch over the last two years.

All plastic and cardboard waste is now shipped for recycling and/or reverse logistics and transformed into by-products. Plastic is the raw material for bags and sacks, and cardboard is reused in boxes. The plastic and cardboard packages undergo a decharacterization process to safeguard the brands depicted on them and make it impossible for them to be deviated or misused.

Fertigation – The wastewater generated by Bem Brasil undergoes proper treatment before it can be used for fertigation in the farms of Grupo Fazenda Água Santa in Perdizes. “We fertigated an average of 3,000 m³/day, totaling 84,000 m³/month in an area of ​​600 hectares encompassing various crops. This by-product is a source of NPK elements, thus contributing to a reduction in the use of fertilizers in crops,” says Isabela.

During the anaerobic process in the wastewater treatment system, the biogas burned in the boiler is also used for energy. This saves at least 20% of biomass and prevents greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.

The current average biogas flow for energy generation is 45 m³/h. Thus, the gain in energy efficiency at the Araxá plant jumped from 800 kW to 1500 kW. The Perdizes plant has the potential for a four-fold increase in these metrics.

Bem Brasil also engages in composting – all the organic waste from potatoes and ashes is used. According to Sustainability manager Isabela Navarro the company produces two thousand tons of organic compost per month on average, and these are applied on various crops covering an area of ​​10,000 hectares. “As a result of this action, we stopped emitting approximately 20,000 tons of CO2,” she says.

Bem Brasil believes that it is possible to establish a self-sufficient and long-lasting production chain that draws on the famous Law of Lavoisier: “In nature nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”.