These are the roots of our sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts:
Michigan Sugar Company is committed to continuous improvement programs in the areas of energy use, water use/reuse, carbon dioxide emissions, and material and packaging waste management and recycling.
Since becoming a grower-owned cooperative in 2002, we have cut our energy consumption by over 40% and reduced our carbon footprint dramatically. In 2014, we converted our Caro factory coal boiler to clean burning natural gas and in 2015 did the same at our factory in Croswell. These conversions alone have reduced our annual carbon emissions by 25%. By investing in state-of-the-art, energy-efficient technology throughout our factories, we have achieved a total reduction in annual carbon emissions of 150,000 tons.
Today, more than 87% of our factory operations are powered by clean burning natural gas.
Michigan Sugar Company has a goal of zero waste as it pertains to our sugarbeet crop. All components of the sugarbeet are commercialized or recycled. In addition to sugar, we produce coproducts, such as pulp and molasses, that can be used in livestock feed, pet foods and even road de-icer, among other things. The topsoil and field stones brought in with the beets, and the beet lime used in the process, are utilized by landscapers and growers as soil additives and decorative features. Furthermore, much of the water removed from the beets is converted to steam to power various operations inside our factories. This total-usage practice is good for business and benefits the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the elimination of waste.
Michigan Sugar Company is committed to protecting the environment and aggressively manages its impact through waste prevention and minimization, robust recycling, and conservation of energy and natural resources.
As a grower-owned cooperative, Michigan Sugar Company is committed to researching, developing, and implementing agricultural best practices that increase yields while reducing impacts to the land.
Michigan Sugar Company’s grower-owners are proud to plant GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) sugarbeet seed that has allowed them to increased yields by 50% while reducing the number of passes made across their fields by 65% over the past decade. GMO technology has greatly reduced the amount of herbicide being applied by Michigan Sugar’s growers. Farmers can now fight weeds by applying herbicides in targeted areas when needed and can use conservation tillage production methods that preserve topsoil, prevent erosion, and reduce carbon emissions.
Michigan Sugar Company employees serve as trusted advisors to our grower-owners in our quest for strong land stewardship. We use global positioning system – or GPS – technology to track every sugarbeet field from pre-planting to harvest and provide growers with customized information about use of fertilizer, herbicide, fungicide and insecticide, all aimed at minimizing soil erosion and phosphate run-off and preserving our natural resources. The use of cover crops is a strong focus as we replenish, through nature, soil nutrients needed for future production of all crops in our rotation.
Each year, Michigan Sugar Company’s Agriculture Research team conducts agronomic and seed variety studies on approximately 100 acres of land located in up to 20 locations throughout our growing area. This research allows growers to maximize yields while minimizing impacts to the environment. Michigan Sugar Company is a partner in the Saginaw Valley Research & Extension Center located near Reese, Michigan, and works closely with both Michigan State University and the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
Michigan Sugar Company is committed to maintaining safe and healthy work environments while investing in the professional development of our employees to enhance their skills, knowledge, and capabilities for future growth within our cooperative.
At Michigan Sugar Company, we live by our values – Excellence, Pride, Integrity, Compassion and Trust. This is the foundation of a business environment that sets respect and dignity for co-workers, suppliers, customers, and partners as an absolute expectation. We are dedicated to principles of equality and diversity and comply with all equality and anti-discrimination laws. Michigan Sugar Company is committed to conformity with all state and federal worker safety and labor standards.
Michigan Sugar Company hires career-minded people searching for long-term employment and supports employee growth through robust apprenticeship programs, on-the-job training, internal and external classes and seminars, and tuition reimbursement. Full-time, regular employees are offered a benefits package with quality insurance, paid leave, and retirement plans.
Michigan Sugar Company fosters a multigenerational workforce where more than 130 of the company’s 930 year-round and 1,100 seasonal employees have been on the job for more than two decades and many come from the same family. We cultivate this environment knowing our quality products are a direct reflection of our quality people.
Michigan Sugar Company is committed to helping our local communities prosper and grow in positive ways through robust volunteerism, thought leadership, product donations and direct financial support – from our company and our employees – to organizations and causes committed to doing the same.
Each year, Michigan Sugar Company donates more than 100,000 pounds of sugar to community food pantries, churches, and nonprofit organizations, including more than 20,000 pounds distributed during our annual Sugar Distribution Day held in partnership with United Way Bay County. With a corporate match program in place, Michigan Sugar and its employees donated more than $30,000 to United Way in 2019 and was named a “Champion Partner” by the agency.
Michigan Sugar Company annually awards more than one dozen academic scholarships, including grants to students attending Delta College, Northwood University and Saginaw Valley State University.
We support countless organizations, including the Bay Area Women’s Center, Bay City Players, Covenant Kids Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Great Lakes Bay Region, McLaren Bay Medical Foundation and Delta College Possible Dream Program. Additionally, we annually sponsor county fairs in Bay, Huron, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties, as well as community festivals in Bay City, Caro, Croswell and Sebewaing. In 2019, Michigan Sugar Company served as the Presenting Port Sponsor for Bay City’s Tall Ship Celebration.
Michigan Sugar Company partners with the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy to maintain the Michigan Sugar Trails, a series of single-track, natural surface, hiking and biking trails located on 26 acres on Bay City’s Middlegrounds Island.
Michigan Sugar Company’s employees are encouraged to volunteer their time through board service, coaching youth sports, being active members of civic organizations and contributing their time, talents, and money to build and foster strong ties to the community.
(June 25, 2020)