To link in with America Recycles Day on November 15, Chiquita Brands International has announced its efforts to minimise food waste and promote its sustainability efforts.
Each year, millions of Americans take part in America Recycles Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness for recycling and reducing waste, and Chiquita has said that it is continuing to work daily to meet its goal to create zero fruit waste by 2020, by repurposing and donating bananas that are not sold.
“Bananas are the world’s fourth most important food crop, making them essential food for millions of people all over the world,” said Jamie Postell, director of sales North America for Chiquita. “At Chiquita, we strive to reduce environmental pollution and food waste by finding ways to repurpose our unused bananas.”
The company’s efforts extend to a purée plant in Costa Rica, where an average of 65,000 tonnes of unused bananas are converted into banana purée and flour each year.
Bruised bananas that do not meet the high-quality standard for commercialisation are given to local farmers who use them to feed their animals, and the organisation also gives back to its farmers by providing organic fertiliser and educational support around how to use the fertiliser.
Chiquita also owns a machine known as a biodigester that operates without fuel or electricity and filters waste water to create a fertiliser rich in plant nutrients. By transforming this waste, Chiquita is reducing the organic load that would typically be discarded into nearby lagoons.
Inedible parts of the banana plants are also repurposed and put to good use, with banana leaves, trunks and stems left in the field as mulch that returns organic matter to the soil, protects it from erosion, conserves moisture and inhibits weed growth.
These composting trenches on the farms become a favourite feeding place for birds, deer, insects and frogs too.