Chiquita’s just-released corporate social responsibility report 2009-2012 calls out its Costa Rica fruit processing plant, Mundimar, which installed a biodigester as part of the company’s “Waste to Energy” program in 2011. Farmers in Hawaii are attempting similar efforts to turn waste to energy in order to combat soaring energy prices.
The Chiquita biodigester provides two major benefits, the sustainability report states: ensuring that the plant’s water is compliant with Costa Rica’s strict environmental laws, and generating electricity from methane gas. The system enables the company to harness the full energy potential of discarded fruit materials that previously could not be captured. It provides a sustainable energy source for the facility, nutrient rich fertilizer for local farmers and filters processing water.
These capabilities help the company, the communities and the planet, Chiquita says.
In Hawaii, where energy prices have doubled or even tripled in some places since 2002, farmers are struggling. Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture has been working with Big Island Dairy Group — which took over a bankrupt dairy farm — to build a biodigester that they expect will turn large amounts of waste into energy. The goal of the two entities is to expand biodigester technology throughout the state, particularly to papaya farmers, writes the Honolulu Civil Beat. The energy produced by the biodigester will be enough to meet all the dairy farm’s energy needs.
Additionally, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture is working with state regulators to agree upon a fixed price for the excess energy generated from the waste that can be sold back to the Hawaiian Electric Co.