Dole utilizes different types of plastic material throughout the banana production process.
Plastic is used in banana production for three major purposes:
- As a field bag to protect banana stems from insects and mechanical damage, as well as enhance fruit development.
- As a twine that props the banana plants to prevent them from tipping over.
- As a sheath to avoid quality problems, particularly scarring, during finger growth.
Field bags represent the greatest use of plastic in the banana production process, so Dole makes it a point to reuse and recycle them. Twine is collected and immediately sent for recycling, while sheaths can be reused a few times first before getting recycled into new plastic items.
All plastic used in both Dole-owned and independent growers’ farms in Costa Rica is collected for recycling by organizations, such as Recyplast.
Founded in 1994, Recyplast consists of approximately 100 employees who recycle banana bags and twine from Dole’s fields into plastic corner boards used to maintain pallets.
Recyplast turns to additional sources, such as domestic and other industries, to recycle their plastics. Some companies even use the twine plastic to produce roof shingles and pellets.
Altogether, Dole in Costa Rica recycles over 2,000 tons of plastic per year.
For more information, read Dole’s case study, “Rio Frio’s Plastic Management for Sustainable Production.”
Dole in Ecuador (UBESA) recycles over 800 tons of plastic per year. Since 1992, it’s facilitated the recycling process by actively building plastic collection centers in the South, Guayas and Los Rios zone.
Starting in 1994, plastic had to be packed at the collection centers and later transported by third parties to their respective recycling facilities. Today, most plastic is collected at the farms by recyclers’ trucks – an act that was encouraged by increased prices for plastic in the marketplace. The Company provides employees with training sessions about how to classify and collect the different plastic for recycling.
Plastics from UBESA are turned into corner boards, which on average may contain up to 80% recycled plastic material.
In Honduras, Dole recycles over 1,000 tons of linear low density, high density and polypropylene plastics each year. These materials are mainly used to make plastic rails that replace wooden rails on train tracks.
The project also features collection points at every compound where Dole employees and their families live.