Incatema designs a process for recycling plastics used in banana production

2 September, 2021

Controlling the use of plastics in organic banana production in the Dominican Republic is already possible thanks to the programme of Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) that Incatema Consulting & Engineering has been developing together with its partner Agrer since 2014 in various Caribbean countries.

The BAM programme has implemented a procedure for collecting and managing plastics at source, obtaining the collection of protective covers from production sites and packaging centres. This helps to significantly reduce uncontrolled waste and the pollution it generates. To achieve this goal, producer organisations have closely cooperated with farmers to collect bags used for protecting the bananas.

Incatema has also designed specific processes for recycling and reusing this plastic waste, adapted to the banana producers’ very own needs. The results of the study to design plastic recycling processes could be applied in an immediate future.

The use of blue, white or milky green sleeves when the banana is on the plant is common to protect it from plagues or insects. The protective plastic is removed once the banana is ripe so that the fruit can be packaged and sold.

The Dominican Republic provides 60 % of the world’s organic banana production, with sales of more than 280,000 tonnes on international markets between 2015-2017. The European Union and United States are the main importers of organic bananas from the Dominican Republic.

The environmental impact of plastic pollution

According to the latest report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), plastic pollution affects marginalised and vulnerable communities disproportionately by provoking the contamination of drinking water, deforestation, or migrations.

Comfort, hygiene and safety are often quoted as the benefits of plastic materials, but, according to the report “it is essential to understand the disproportionate impact of all phases of plastic production on people" who live close to the places of its manufacture and disposal, and on the ecosystems on which they depend.

The US, Japan and the European Union are the largest producers of plastic waste per capita and only 9% of the 9 billion tonnes of plastic produced in the world have been recycled.