In banana production, water is extensively used during the packing process. In order to optimize water consumption, Dole has developed several types of water recycling systems for implementation in the packing houses.
Water has three main purposes in the banana packing process:
- As a cleaning agent to remove debris and insects.
- As a holding and carrying agent while bananas await cluster formation and selection.
- As a latex removal agent.
The traditional packing process requires up to 150 liters (39.63 gallons) of water to pack a single banana box (18.14 kilograms or 40 pounds). Water is used to fill two pools, one for de-handing and one for latex removal, and is constantly flowing for proper utilization.
In the early nineties, Dole developed a partial recirculation system that used sand and gravel filters as a way to reduce water usage to 100 liters (26.42 gallons) per banana box.
A few years later in Ecuador, Dole inaugurated full water-recycling systems that re-used and re-circulated the water in packing facilities. These systems have been shown to save energy, protect aquifers, chlorinate water for fruit processing and help eliminate latex and metals. After reducing water usage to only 18 liters (4.76 gallons) per banana box, Dole installed over 120 full water-recycling systems throughout Ecuador. Within time, the systems were extended to other countries in which we operate.
Dole’s Technical Assistance programs for independent banana and pineapple growers worldwide have been integrated into Dole’s ISO 14001 certifications.