The Environmental Sustainability Award: British Sugar

Award Type: 

Longlisted for a Business in the Community Responsible Business Award 2018 

Action and Impact 

British Sugar has for nearly 20 years operated the largest glasshouse in the UK, taking the excess heat and CO2 from sugar making to create a thriving horticulture business. The manufacturer produces 1.4 million tonnes of sugar each year from the UK’s beet crop and has a long-standing commitment to reduce the environmental impact of the industry.

The glasshouse uses 46,000 mega watt hours a year, is 97% water self-sufficient, and only produces 200 grams of waste for every tonne of sugar manufactured.

For many years British Sugar’s horticultural glasshouse produced tomatoes, then in October 2016 announced the glasshouse would change crop and grow a key ingredient for the pharmaceutical sector.  This ingredient will be used in a new prescription medicine (Epidiolex) being developed to treat rare but serious forms of epilepsy in children.  The active ingredient in Epidiolex is known as Cannabidiol (CBD), and it is sourced from a non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant family, specifically bred for medical purposes and under license from the UK Home Office.  British Sugar started to grow these plants from 2017.

Paul Kenward, Managing Director, British Sugar, said: "This partnership has brought together two leading British innovators in their respective industries to maximise the use of resources from one industry to produce material for another industry. This has not only helped British Sugar increase revenue from our glasshouse business, but also provided GW with a reliable source of the crop for what could be a transformative medicine that improves the quality of life of children with severe forms of epilepsy."