EU Feedstock Politics & Legislation

Why Sugar Beets are not Used in Bioplastic Production

The answer is simple: the EU sugar policy.

European Sugar Production

EU produces 50% of the the world’s beet sugar. Sugar beets represents 20% of the world’s sugar production; the other 80% is produced from sugar cane.

Most of the EU’s sugar beet is grown in the northern half of Europe, where the climate is more suited to growing beet: northern France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland.

The EU Sugar Policy

EU institutions disrupted the EU sugar industry in 2006 with bureaucratic pressure and it resulted in the loss of 20,000 jobs.

There were 285.000 EU sugar beet growers in 2006 and 164.000 in 2010. Many factories were mistakenly shut down by the EU resulting in the EU sugar industry being controlled by a small few: 75% of the EU’s production was controlled by only six industrial groups after 2010.

EU became a net importer of sugar, while it used to be a net exporter. In addition, the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) imposed production quotas and minimum prices.

The CAP was promoted to EU citizens as being an instrument to guarantee income to farmers. In reality it promoted volume instead of quality and was in the interest of Agro industry more than in the interests of the farmers.

The EU Court of Auditors concluded afterwards that the bad EU sugar policy was due to the fact the European Commission used out of date information.

This system was abolished in October 2017 resulting in increased EU sugar production, reduced EU sugar import and fall of EU sugar price: 700€ in 2013 to 500 € in 2017.

Expensive Sugar Beets

The first generation feedstock uses sugar to produce bioplastics. The EU sugar policy and the CAP (quotas and minimum prices) made it harder for the European bioplastics industry to use expensive European sugar beets. It was cheaper to use sugar cane from abroad.

EU CAP Beneficiaries

The largest EU CAP beneficiaries are billionaires, millionaires and royalties. They include the Duke of Northumberland, the Duke of Westminster, the Earl of Iveagh and the Guinness family, and the Queen.

Sir James Dyson’s farming business was the biggest private recipient of EU basic payments in the UK in 2016, receiving £1.6 million. Companies belonging to H&M chairman Carl Stefan Erling Persson and racehorse breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah al Saud also receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in subsidies.

CLOSING REMARKS

  • Was the EU sugar policy a failure?
  • Do you think the CAP was a success?

REFS