Dole Food Company has created a new Office of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability that will drive the company’s global environmental initiatives at company-owned farms. The new group replaces Dole’s existing office of Corporate Social Responsibility.
While the new group will continue to support a range of programs aimed at its employees and local communities, it will now also focus on three priority initiatives including carbon footprint reduction, soil conservation and water management.
Some of the group’s key initiatives under these priorities include conducting a comprehensive calculation of product carbon footprints from production through the supply chain and implementing programs to improve refrigeration systems, use controlled-released fertilizers and educate truck drivers on efficient driving techniques.
Dole has already certified the carbon footprint of bananas produced in Costa Rica and distributed in Germany. Dole Asia is implementing a similar process for the bananas produced in the Philippines.
The food company also has reforestation initiatives in its production countries to help offset greenhouse gas emissions. As an example, in Costa Rica Dole owns and protects over 2,400 hectares of natural and commercial forest, reforested areas and buffer zones and in the Philippines over 1,000,000 trees have been planted through reforestation efforts.
Dole is also participating in a Norwegian initiative aimed at measuring the environmental impact of Dole’s bananas distributed in Norway.
The company also is practicing conservation management efforts to protect soil and to conserve water at packing plants and farms, and is launching its New Millennium Packing Plant, which consumes approximately 80 percent less water compared to conventional packing plants. Dole joined the Water Footprint Network last year.
Recycling programs are also part of Dole’s new priority initiatives. As an example, on an annual basis Dole recycles approximately 300 tons of plastic in Ecuador, 1,500 tons in Costa Rica and 1,100 tons in Honduras. In the Philippines, plastic strapping is recycled and weaved into various handicrafts that support local small business cooperatives.