Mitr Phol is Asia’s largest sugar and bio-energy producer. One of their biggest sites is located in Chumphae, Thailand, just a couple of kilometers away from my house.
Just last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Mitr Phol’s Innovation and Research Center to interview Dr. Somwung Anusongpornpurm (Wung) and Miss Pisittinee Chapanya (Eve) about the eco-friendly approach Mitr Phol applies to all of its practices.
I asked Eve, “What is the importance of Eco-friendly business practices in Thailand?”
“Thailand is a green cultural country, and people understand that a healthy environment is important for human life. Caring for the environment is especially important for Mitr Phol because the eco-system is the biggest material source for the company,” Eve responded.
Eve started working at Mitr Phol in fertilizer and soil research, but moved to biochemical research after three years. Now she has been in the service lab for the last eleven years.
So what is the company doing to sustain a healthy eco-system?
Well, when I asked Dr. Wung about the Center’s overall goal, he said the goal is zero waste. They want to use every inedible by-product to create something that has a use. Bagasse, a leftover fiber from sugarcane, is one of those inedible by-products. Mitr Phol uses bagasse for power production that not only provides power to the entire factory, but also to the neighboring towns. Aside from using bagasse, Mitr Phol also uses molasses to create ethanol.
Production technology is another area of research and development for the Center that includes developments in resistant plant varieties, bio-controls, bio-fertilizer, and Co2 reductions. While Dr. Wung admitted that they used to use pesticides to control insect problems with the sugarcane crop, they have stopped now, and have switched to an organic fungus called Metarhizium. Metarhizium is completely natural, and has no known adverse effects for the sugarcane crop or humans.
Aside from Metarhizium, Mitr Phol also uses Trichogramma egg parasites as another all natural bio control method for stem borer pests. However, zero-waste initiatives and organic bio control systems aren’t the only aims for Mitr Phol. When I asked Eve about additional goals, she said one big aim was to give profit back to the farmer.
“If the farmer cannot stand, we cannot stand,” Eve said. “Grow together is Mitr Phol’s motto.”
Mitr Phol is constantly researching new varieties of sugar cane to make it easier for the farmers to plant and to optimize the nutrients available. They also currently have programs in place to allocate funds for future generations of farmers to attend school for agricultural studies. Mitr Phol is a big advocate for education. They even sponsored Dr. Wung to go back to school and complete his PhD.
In addition, the sugar factory also has a full time English teacher on site who offers daily classes for the employees.
Mitr Phol is an economic powerhouse in Thailand, and a huge source of employment in my neighborhood. They are a company that relies on the eco-system, and they understand the importance of care and respect to the Earth. I am happy to see that they value sustainability as much as profitability. In a world with increasing environmental issues and heartless companies that cut costs at the expense of our planet, eco-friendly business practices are only becoming more and more vital for our survival.
Mitr Phol’s investment in environmental research has helped them increase profits by creating new products out of would be waste, while at the same time ensuring a healthy eco-system. They are thriving proof that a giant company can use sustainable eco-minded practices to garner economic success while still ensuring a healthy Earth.
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