The latest news from Acacia Environmental

Banana leaf packaging and pineapple powder: How Dole plans to eliminate food waste by 2025

September 2020

[Source Images: Daria Voskoboeva/iStock, Ola-Ola/iStock] Original article appeared in Fast Company and was written by ADELE PETERS.

The company 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.

Each year, Dole grows billions of bananas—the world’s most popular fruit—along with other produce. But not all of those billions of bananas end up as food: Some portion of them are lost along the supply chain, wasting energy, money, and nutrients. And the company also generates waste from the parts of the fruit that don’t get eaten. In the next five years, the company plans to eliminate those losses entirely.

In R&D labs, the company is now 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.”

Right now, some “ugly” fruit is lost because strict cosmetic standards in the industry mean that it can’t easily be sold. “As an industry, we have to both set different standards and persuade consumers that just because something looks wonky does not mean it is not tasty or nutritious,” he says. Some startups in the space, such as Imperfect Foods, already are beginning to source less-than-flawless fruit from Dole. Other fruit is wasted because it’s damaged during harvest or in the supply chain. The company is researching ways to “upcycle” any fruit that can’t be sold whole into snacks, drinks, and other potential products, including cosmetics and skincare.

Parts of plants that aren’t typically used now will find new uses. The company is working with partners on new compostable packaging that can be made from pulp from banana leaves or pineapple skins. “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—for now, the company is focused on fruit lost between farms and grocery stores and isn’t considering how retailers and consumers can also waste less produce (one study found that bananas are the most wasted food inside grocery stores). It also hasn’t 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.”

Chemical-free weed treatment in prominent bush-play area, provided just in time to stop Nettle stings for children in lockdown.

July 2020

Gresswell Forest Nature Play Area is located in the suburb of Watsonia, in Melbourne’s north-east.  It is a remnant patch of bushland, with a series of nature play experiences amongst a lush bush setting, where children can hunt for wildflowers, collect feathers, climb trees and discover the local wildlife. Due to its popularity and close proximity to surrounding homes, the habitat hosts many children throughout the year.

Our brief was to safely remove Stinging Nettles quickly and effectively, without shutting down the area for a long period of time, and by only using a non-chemical approach. Giving children a place to play and explore again while in Covid-19 lockdown.

Read more about Acacia’s solution here.

Melbourne Water – Reimagining Your Creek

July 2020

Acacia has been selected as the revegetation company to complete the first two of Melbourne
Water’s exciting Reimagining Your Creekline Projects. The selection was based on capacity,
demonstrated safety on previous projects including Merri Creek and Dandenong Valley Parkland.

Download the full case study here

Development Melbourne Water Capital Revegetation Projects

July 2020

In 2018, Acacia Environmental Management was contracted to install bird exclusion netting and plant approximately 60,000 plants atBrushy Creek Wetland in Wonga Park. After a failed planting projects within the wetland, Acacia was contracted to design, construct and install four nets equating to approximately 50,000m2. The large scale of the netting structures required innovative design and construction techniques to provide a high quality product.

Read the full case study here 

Development and implementation of a vegetation management plan for Parks Victoria

July 2020

Acacia was engaged to develop a vegetation management plan for their client, Parks Victoria, containing a set of priority management areas and actions that collated previous research, community-based knowledge and regulatory requirements into a single document.This was to cover all three reserves within the local cluster of open space under single management. 

Download the full case study here 

Reimagining Arnold’s Creek with Melbourne Water

July 2020

Acacia was approached by Melbourne Water to implement on-ground works to establish a native vegetation profile, in support of their goals. These included: Establishing ‘wet habitat’ to cater for and heavily expand existing flora attract new fauna; the planting of an adapted urban forest and groundcover to combat the urban heat island effect and to establish an aesthetic, healthy place for people to enjoy.

Download the full case study here

The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust: River Red Gum Parkland

June 2020

Since 2018, Acacia has provided a range of environmental services to The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT)across the River Red Gum Parkland site.
Due to the success of our works, the partnership continues. Read about what Acacia implemented in stage one and the services that we offer below:

Download the Full Case Study