Dole Food Company, Inc. generates huge amounts of waste from the parts of the fruit it doesn’t use. In the next five years, it’s hoping to find new ways to repurpose it all.
In Dole’s R&D labs, the company is exploring ways to turn pineapple skins and banana leaves into packaging, developing new snacks from misshapen produce that grocery stores don’t want, and processing excess waste in biogas facilities that turn food into electricity to power its processing plants.
The company launched several new goals today, including a plan to eliminate fossil-based plastic packaging by 2025 and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 through steps such as moving to clean energy on farms and testing electric trucks for delivery. But its goal to move to zero fruit loss by 2025 is one key.
“If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming,” says Dole president Pier Luigi Sigismondi. “This is absolutely important, as it is connected and interdependent in many ways. When we waste fruit or food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if it goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.”
“Our ultimate goal is to convert all our plastic packaging into biodegradable solutions that kids can convert into containers with seeds that can be used entirely in public or private gardens,” Sigismondi says. Pineapple cores, which are rich in such nutrients as vitamin C and manganese, may be turned into new snacks and powders.
The steps won’t completely eliminate waste, nor is it yet quantified how much fruit is lost in its own supply chain. But it’s clear that changing the supply chain will help. The whole produce industry needs to move in the same direction, Sigismondi says. “The ultimate goal is to see these changes becoming an industry standard.”