The humble banana is both delicious and nutritious – a fruit beloved by kids and adults alike. But did you know that plastic banana bunch covers, used by farmers to protect bananas from insects, chemicals and environmental factors, generate up to 300 tonnes of plastic waste each year? GreenCollar is committed to tackling this plastic waste with an innovative response. Our pioneering two-phase pilot project in Far North Queensland will recover and recycle plastic banana covers and remove them from the environment, helping tackle plastic pollution one golden bunch at a time.
The estimated number of banana trees in Far North Queensland stands at around 15.7 million across 11,000 hectares. In phase one of our pilot project – which is already underway – we’re working with farmers in the region to manage the recovery of these thin plastic bag-style protective covers so they can be recycled and find a new life rather than ending up in the environment.
Financing new and improved systems for collection of farm plastics is a key way we can support our banana farmers and deliver tangible outcomes for the environment. Phase one focuses on collection of plastics and encompasses on-farm baling, bins and collection services.
GreenCollar’s exciting pilot project is the first in a series of ventures being developed in line with the new global Plastic Waste Reduction Standard, launched this month by the 3R Initiative alongside US not-for-profit Verra. Verra has developed the world’s first comprehensive framework for corporations to verifiably manage and reduce plastic waste. The global Standard encourages companies to offset their plastic footprint by purchasing equivalent plastic credits (measured by weight) on this emerging market.
In line with the new global Standard, phase two of our plastic banana cover recovery project will involve incentivising new recycling facilities, currently lacking in the region, to convert this plastic waste into its next useful life. Many new technologies are available to tackle the problem, but need investment to scale operations. The farm plastics of Far North Queensland present a great opportunity for these recycling operations. By helping to build the plastic crediting market, GreenCollar is nurturing these connections and new opportunities for the region.
Our Plastic Banana Cover Project – the first of its kind on Australian soil – was one of 24 pilot projects chosen to trial the framework internationally, along with two other GreenCollar ventures in Vanuatu and Ghana. These international ventures demonstrate that while the positive environmental outcomes of plastic recovery projects are paramount, ultimately, it’s the compelling economic and social benefits to stakeholders and local communities that encourages uptake of this sustainability initiative.
In our Ghana & Vanuatu Plastic Waste Recovery and Recycling Projects, for example, we are providing ongoing training, equipment and supplies to help local communities accelerate and expand the collection of plastic waste to recycle, as well as generate consistent income – all funded through the sale of plastic credits.
Projects like this provide a fantastic blueprint for corporations to take responsibility for the management of plastic waste, while achieving social, economic and environmental benefits at the same time.
In the case of our plastic recovery project in Queensland, it’s the farmers themselves who receive the greatest rewards. By helping banana growers reduce their operating costs and manage their waste, GreenCollar is helping the sustainability of one of our iconic Australian agriculture sectors.
And unlike a discarded banana peel, there’s nothing slippery about that.
Businesses and individuals interested in learning more about plastic credits can visit this page.