Project Description

RECYCLING PLASTIC

FROM BUNCH BAGS TO CORNER BOARDS

In Peru’s banana sector (+/- 10,000 hectares), an estimated 20 million plastic bags are used annually for this purpose, some 450 tonnes of plastic altogether. An awful lot of this plastic waste used to be disposed of in landfills, incinerated or even worse, dumped on plantations or by the roadside. Thankfully, this is now gradually changing for the better.

With technical assistance from Plastic Fantastic and guidance from AgroFair, producer BANANICA has set up its first recycling factory in Peru, magically transforming used bunch bags into corner boards by the end of January 2020. (For those of you who do not dwell in the enchanting world of palletizing: corner boards are pallet edge protectors and we use a LOT of them – 80 per container!).

The first load of recycled corner boards was greeted with a cheer at AgroFair last May. Much in the spirit of the initiative, the corner boards are green, revealing the colour of the bags they are made of.

RECYCLING PLASTIC

CORNER BOARDS

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CORONA VIRUS

CIRCULAR ECONOMY A REALITY

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In the course of 2019, AgroFair kicked off a project to upscale the recycling capacity. Teaming up with the Dutch governmental agency for enterprise development RVO, Luxembourg supermarket chain CACTUS, Solidaridad Peru together with Plastic Fantastic, the WASTE Foundation, and the producer organisations AVACH, APOQ, CEPIBO and APPBOSA, we are working to set up a large recycling factory. The municipality of Sullana has promised an industrial site of at least 5,000 m2 to set up this factory, making us a happy bunch!

… And then came the Corona virus, which struck particularly hard in Peru. Apart from all the other miserable effects, the epidemic has delayed the implementation of the plastic recycling project for months. In July conditions were in place to pick up where we left off. We now hope that the first recycled corner boards from Peru will roll off the assembly lines in the spring of 2021. Once the factory is running at full capacity there will be enough capacity to recycle not only the plastic from our own producers, but from the whole banana sector in Peru. Running two shifts, 960.000 corner boards per year can then be produced, enough for 12.000 containers of bananas – which is the current export volume. Quick math: the amount of used plastic per hectare is about enough to make the number of corner boards needed to export the bananas from that same hectare. It pleases us immensely to say that this makes a piece of circular economy a reality.

… And then came the Corona virus, which struck particularly hard in Peru. Apart from all the other miserable effects, the epidemic has delayed the implementation of the plastic recycling project for months. In July conditions were in place to pick up where we left off. We now hope that the first recycled corner boards from Peru will roll off the assembly lines in the spring of 2021. Once the factory is running at full capacity there will be enough capacity to recycle not only the plastic from our own producers, but from the whole banana sector in Peru. Running two shifts, 960.000 corner boards per year can then be produced, enough for 12.000 containers of bananas – which is the current export volume. Quick math: the amount of used plastic per hectare is about enough to make the number of corner boards needed to export the bananas from that same hectare. It pleases us immensely to say that this makes a piece of circular economy a reality.

SMALLER RECYCLING FACILITIES

So why stop when you are moving along so nicely: two smaller recycling facilities will be set up in the Dominican Republic. The machines have been ordered and are expected to sail in at the main seaport of the Dominican Republic this October. Barring Corona or other disasters (fingers crossed…), the first recycled corner boards will be leaving the factory before the end of the year.

ECOLOGICALLY ORIENTED COMPANY

CIRCULAR ECONOMY A REALITY

Like greedy cooks in the kitchen, we are now scouring around for more recyclable ingredients! We will be looking into other plastics, like plastic bottles, for raw material. If that works, the municipality of Sullana could initiate waste separation and the resulting corner boards could be sold on to other export sectors in northern Peru. There is definitely a market for this product: approximately 200 companies are active in the production and export of delicate products such as mango, grapes, avocado, blueberries, limes and sweet potato.

We see a lot of opportunity here for other products as well: recycled plastic can be put to excellent use in planks, poles for fences and other building materials.

Like greedy cooks in the kitchen, we are now scouring around for more recyclable ingredients! We will be looking into other plastics, like plastic bottles, for raw material. If that works, the municipality of Sullana could initiate waste separation and the resulting corner boards could be sold on to other export sectors in northern Peru. There is definitely a market for this product: approximately 200 companies are active in the production and export of delicate products such as mango, grapes, avocado, blueberries, limes and sweet potato.

We see a lot of opportunity here for other products as well: recycled plastic can be put to excellent use in planks, poles for fences and other building materials.

AND SO IT SEEMS WE DO NOT JUST DO FRUIT.. WE DO PLASTICS AS WELL! AND EVEN THOUGH THIS CONCEPT TAKES A BIT OF GETTING USED TO FOR AN ECOLOGICALLY ORIENTED COMPANY; THIS PRODUCT IS ACTUALLY REALLY, REALLY GREEN!

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