UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into the replacement of packaged granulated sugars by liquid sugars Gunaratnam, Ajanthia; Omole, Funke; Juristovski, Filip; Tan, Johnsen


This report presents the triple bottom assessment of switching from the traditional granulated packaged sugar currently being used by the UBC Food Services, to liquid sugar. The drive of this project is to decrease the waste produced by the granulated sugar packets. The data presented in this report is limited to only a few cafes on campus, as the switch is not campus wide. For our analysis, we took into consideration two cafés; The Loop Café, where liquid sugars have temporarily replaced granulated packaged sugars, and Café Perugia that serves only granulated sugar. This was done so that the results in the survey are unbiased. It is important to note that the current provider of granulated sugar to UBC Food Services also provides the liquid sweeteners, and all research conducted was requested to be based on the products provided by this supplier. Variability by manufacturer/ supplier will not be taken into consideration in the scope of this project. The first step taken was achieving a general understanding of the background of the project. The team then carried out a triple bottom assessment to evaluate if the switch was a sustainable option. From an economic viewpoint, since the UBC Food Services is the end consumer, our evaluation would be influenced by cost per package, differences in consumption, shrinkage, and maintenance. Environmental considerations included waste created by packaging, waste products from manufacturing, and energy consumption. For the social aspect it was determined that customer satisfaction, taste and texture, and resistance to change would be factors considered in our investigation. A survey was then carried out on a small sample of the UBC population; it was found that the customers are satisfied with the switch. Switching to the liquid sugar, eliminates the issue of waste. However, liquid invert sugar is usually obtained from granulated sugar, increasing the number of processes involved as well as energy required. From the economic analysis, it was found that the liquid sugar costs 5.6 times more than the packaged sugar. Socially, the customers received the switch positively but poorer nutrition associated with the liquid sugars raises the issue of health risks such as obesity and possibly diabetes. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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